NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The critical shortage of personal protective equipment has rallied the snow sport community.
They’ve found a unique use for their ski and snowboarding goggles, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
It started with a plea from a Bronx emergency room doctor. Dr. Michael Halperin made an urgent and unusual request of his fellow skiers — hundreds of ski goggles to use for eye protection on the front line of the fight against coronavirus.
East Williston ski race coach Karin Tanenbaum forwarded the request to Jon Schaefer, who runs East Coast ski resorts, and goggles came pouring in.
“We ended up building GogglesForDocs.com, and that literally has grown exponentially,” Schaefer said.
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The call has echoed in ski towns around the country. New or used ski goggles have been collected in homemade donation bins and shipped to health care workers who have no other eye protection.
So far, 200 hospitals have requested shipments.
“There’s always extra goggles. Everybody has a pair, at least one. Many people have multiple pairs,” Tanenbaum said.
There are 10 million skiers and snowboarders in the country. Along with ski companies, they’re providing an instant improvised answer to a critical shortage.
“It’s a snug, comfortable fit that is designed to be worn for many days in a row and many hours in a row, so it is sort of this oddly brilliant use of spare gear,” Schaefer said.
Olympian Daron Rahlves is on board.
“That’s the first pair of goggles I gave to a friend of mine … She’s wearing them with another doctor,” Rahlves said.
Mirrored or clear, they all do the trick in bright hospital settings or at testing facilities.
“So I’m at the head of the bed, my eyes are now protected. I would have a respirator on, so it’s all part of the same puzzle to protect the operator,” Dr. Halperin said.
“People are so grateful. It’s so gratifying. They cannot thank us enough,” Tanenbaum added.
Tanenbaum vets every request. As many as 20 to 30 hospital requests are coming in each day.
And the snow sport community isn’t just contributing goggles. Burton Snowboards announced Wednesday it is donating 500,000 KN95 respirator masks to healthcare workers on the front lines across New York, Boston, New Hampshire and Vermont.