SAN ANTONIO – During an ever-changing pandemic, there is a constant race to weed out faulty personal protective equipment that ends up in our medical system.
Last month, KSAT shared an investigation done by nonprofit consumer watchdog ProPublica, which revealed a Silicon Valley investor was paying workers to repackage non-medical KN95 masks to sell to Texas emergency workers. Thankfully, those masks were denied by a San Antonio team with a lifesaving job.
Chief of Texas’ Department of Emergency Management and former San Antonio district chief for the San Antonio Fire Department Nim Kidd said he was proud of the team that caught the fraudulent materials.
“There have been a lot of stories, and I’m very proud of our team in San Antonio that actually caught what we believe to be all of the fraudulent materials that we had bought and received before we had actually distributed them,” Kidd said in a statement. “We turned those around. We didn’t pay for those. It was a very good system in place.”
Kidd said the process was put in place early on when there was a PPE shortage and items began coming in form overseas.
“We went to our higher (education) and university systems to make sure that what we were buying was, in fact, quality masks,” Kidd said.
He described a process that can, at times, get scientific.
“We do have some industrial hygienists that work for us. In some cases (they take masks) back to the laboratory and run the same standards of test that (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and the FDA would use on those materials if they looked suspect to us, so it’s a pretty robust process that was put in place,” Kidd said.
As the pandemic rages on, PPE will continue to come into the South Texas region from multiple places, and the San Antonio TDEM team will continue to process it before it is handed out.