McDonald’s Donates Masks to City First Responders

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – First responders in the city got additional protection for when they go into the field, courtesy of businessman Herb Washington.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Police Chief Robin Lees and Fire Chief Barry Finley joined the CEO and founder of McDonald’s franchisee HLW Fast Track Inc. Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of the Covelli Centre. There he presented the city officials with 400 three-ply surgical masks for police officers and firefighters.

“We’re all in this together and we appreciate you thinking of us,” Brown said.

“We just look at this as an opportunity to make sure that our men and women, our first responders, have all the protection they need during this difficult time,” he added. “This is just going to help us continue to make sure that they have the right equipment to do their jobs.”

The masks came from a contact of Washington who had a supply, the businessman said. He also donated masks to a couple of doctors and an oncology facility.

“There’s such a great need. This is what we’re supposed to do in these times,” Washington said.

“A lot can be told about what people do in difficult times,” he continued. “You can’t think about yourself. You have to think about those who is less fortunate than you, and being blessed to have this opportunity I wanted to share.”

The Youngstown Police Department has been judicious in issuing masks because of the “finite number” available, Lees said. Officers are out in the field daily and often have to go into houses where they may encounter individuals who are carrying COVID-19.

“We absolutely appreciate it,” he said. “This will give us – and no pun intended – some breathing room.”

The timing was perfect, as far as Finley is concerned. He was just preparing to order similar masks, he said.

“Being first responders, we go on so many different calls where we’re engaged with the public,” including handing out meals and responding to alarm drops, he said.

If firefighters and paramedics are responding to a call at a location where there is a known positive coronavirus diagnosis, they are “fully encapsulated” and using the N95 masks, he said. If no individuals at the location are diagnosed or COVID-19 is not suspected, surgical masks like the ones donated by Washington are “the greatest thing,” he said.

Because the protective masks can be “confining for breathing sometimes,” YPD gives officers discretion in terms of their use, Lees said.

“They’re in contact with the public. They’re obviously encouraged to use them,” he said. “If they see a situation or circumstances that they think they should employ them, they’re there for them to put on.”

At his McDonald’s restaurants, which now only offer takeout or drive-thru service, the coronavirus epidemic has created “a totally different way of life for all of us,” Washington said. Social distancing charts are hung for employees, who wear gloves and have masks available if they want to use them

“A lot of them like to wear their own, of course – a bit more stylish,” he mused. The drive-thru window is now equipped with Plexiglas barriers for protection.

Pictured: Fire Chief Barry Finley, Police Chief Robin Lees, Herb Washington and Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown display the masks donated by Washington to the city.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.