PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - A veteran South Florida firefighter used the power of social media to ensure a local hospital received much-needed medical gear to help caregivers be better protected when treating patients with COVID-19.
Surgical masks are in high demand during the coronavirus crisis, so Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Bufalo took it upon himself to help fill a void in the current mask shortage.
“Being a professional firefighter/paramedic, interacting with sick people on a daily basis, I know what it’s like to be exposed to these dangers,” he said. “I know what the healthcare providers in our hospitals face, and I wanted to make sure that they were as safe and protected as they can be, so that at the end of the day, they can go home safe as well.”
Utilizing social media during a time of social distancing, the 21-year veteran of the fire service jumped on his Facebook page.
Bufalo’s March 21 post read in part, “Looking for a donation. I have located 200 N95 masks. I can purchase them for $375. I would like to donate them to our nurses and doctors so they can stay healthy in order to continue taking care of our sick! … Anyone willing to donate to help purchase these supplies? They’re $1.87 each.”
With access to more than 6,000 members of the Cooper City Neighbors and Friends group on Facebook, the firefighter acquired enough donations within a week to buy over 2,000 N95 masks.
“It’s only because of the power of social media that we were able to raise the money to purchase these masks to help keep these healthcare providers safe,” said Bufalo.
Having raised more than $4,000 for his local healthcare workers, Bufalo and his union president delivered the box of masks to Memorial West Hospital in Pembroke Pines, Tuesday morning.
“It’s unfortunate sometimes that it takes something this complicated and this difficult to bring the community together, but I think that what it’s done is motivated them to just keep pushing,” said Leah Carpenter, the hospital’s CEO.
“My goal was to reach out to the community, show support to our doctors and nurses,” said Bufalo. “A lot of times, they’re the unsung heroes, and I really wanted people to understand, in the situation that we’re in, just how important they are and protecting them.”
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