When Thermaxx began producing personal protective gowns instead of insulation jackets at its West Haven, Conn., plant, in response to the coronavirus crisis, AAA Northeast saw an opportunity to pitch in. Thermaxx needed help distributing to first responders and medical personnel, and AAA had vehicles and staff to get the job done.
“When we learned about Thermaxx’s need to quickly get their protective gowns in the hands of first responders and members of the health care community, we knew we had to help,” said President and CEO John Galvin. “AAA has a long history of helping the communities we serve, so this became a perfect partnership with Thermaxx to assist front-line responders in their battle against this virus.”
Thermaxx first became involved at the request of a local fire department in need of disposable protective gear that is in short supply during the nationwide coronavirus crisis. Thermaxx rapidly converted all its production lines to make disposable gowns to be donated to first responders and medical personnel across Connecticut. While Thermaxx gowns have not undergone FDA testing and approval to be designated as personal protective equipment, they are designed as an improvement to alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here to learn more about Thermaxx gowns.
Thermaxx began fulfilling requests from firefighters, first responders and medical professionals across Connecticut on March 25. More than 250 organizations submitted requests to pick up gowns at Thermaxx in the first two weeks. The immediate demand was more than the company could handle alone, but others joined the effort after hearing the call for help.
AAA Northeast volunteered its roadside assistance fleet.
“Converting our factory was difficult, but doable. Building out a distribution model almost seemed impossible,” said Tom Salagaj, vice president of manufacturing and engineering at Thermaxx. “Having AAA Northeast step up to handle our distribution not only gave first responders valuable hours of their day back, but it also allowed Thermaxx to focus on manufacturing.”
For the past few weeks, Crystal Davila, a battery technician in AAA’s Connecticut fleet, has been happily bringing supplies to those who need them in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties in western Connecticut. She appreciates the ability to make a difference during the crisis and enjoys the enthusiastic – and grateful – response she receives on her stops.
She was surprised when members of Echo Hose Ambulance in Shelton, Conn., asked her to pose for a photo.
“As first responders, we help people every day. During this pandemic, we are busy helping those that need us most. Words can’t express enough gratitude and appreciation we have from our local businesses such a Thermaxx and AAA for providing us the much-needed protective equipment and services we rely on each day to keep our crews safe.”
Davila is glad for the opportunity.
“We all play a part in helping slow the virus and helping those who are out there helping us,” Crystal said. “Standing at the front line brings humility.”
Meals on Wheels
With stay-at-home orders across the northeast, volunteer delivery people are in short supply for some organizations – and people – that rely on them. Meals on Wheels makes a difference for elderly citizens living in isolation, bringing them prepared food and a brief interaction with a caring person.
Matt Zebracki, a tow technician in AAA’s New York fleet, has spent a few of his shifts providing this service to people in downtown Manhattan.
“It’s a pleasure doing it. It’s nice to see the smiles on seniors’ faces,” he said. “Some people are surprised to see my uniform and see that AAA is giving back to the community. I tell them that we always do.”
Donna Marques, a AAA driving instructor in Cranston, R.I., has been on the Meals on Wheels circuit in Rhode Island. She says the most rewarding aspect is the human contact.
“I’m delivering food, but also making sure everyone is OK,” she said.
Learn more about how AAA Northeast employees are helping our communities – and how you can too.