La Vista paramedic outfits colleagues with face shields

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 11:45 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Face masks are a common sight these days no matter who you are. But one local man has taken it upon himself to outfit healthcare workers with an extra layer of protection.

Charles Wilkins is an emergency room paramedic who works closely with COVID-19 patients. He noticed others in his profession wearing heavy-duty face shields, so he bought one for himself. But, he didn’t stop there. He wanted to collect and hand out a sturdier face shield for all of the paramedics he works with.

“I’ve been in COVID rooms an hour or so working on a patient alongside a nurse and it’s just nice to have these bad boys,” he said, referring to the Lincoln Electric OMNIShield Professional Face Shield he owns.

Wilkins says the hospital-issued face shields work well, but the ones he’s giving out are more durable and would belong to the paramedics themselves.

For funding purposes, he explored avenues like CARES Act money. That didn’t pan out, so in late December, Wilkins turned elsewhere: the community.

“I reached out to my friends, and the boxes haven’t stopped coming,” said Wilkins.

Wilkins got the idea to crowdfund from his friend, Maddy, after she - a fellow paramedic and cardiac tech - raised 50 shields herself.

So thanks to social media and word of mouth, face shields are showing up on his doorstep, sometimes three at a time.

“For a while, I didn’t have a living room. I also wonder how tired the amazon guy is dropping these off,” he said with a smile.

His initial goal was just 15 face shields. By Wednesday morning, he was at 92 with more likely to come in.

Wilkins is not just collecting the face shields for his colleagues anymore, but for paramedics across the entire metro healthcare community who work face-to-face with COVID-positive patients.

He says every recipient is grateful.

“Not only does it provide the protection, but it’s a huge morale boost. We’ve been dealing with COVID for nearly a year now and it’s just another small win.”

Wilkins is happy to provide the added layer of comfort.

“If I can keep even one more paramedic in the fight longer because they had better protection then I feel like I’m really doing my part.”

Though he wishes it didn’t have to come down to crowdfunding, he says with every new box that arrives on his doorstep comes a sense of joy and pride in his community.

“We got a lot of good people in this community that are eager to help out in any way that they can. And sometimes clicking an Amazon link is a great way to do their part.”

Wilkins says there’s no end date for this face shield initiative, and as long as they keep coming in, he’ll keep handing them out.

How to help: If you’re interested in donating a face shield for a healthcare worker in the community, you can purchase them via his Amazon list.

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