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story.lead_photo.caption COURTESY PHOTO Capt. Mike Wilbanks with Farmington Police Department was one of several first responders who helped unload personal protection equipment at Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative to be distributed to teachers and staff in Northwest Arkansas. Others who helped included Farmington police officers, Farmington firefighters and members of Farmington High baseball team. The boxes contained thousands of items, such as face coverings, face shields and gloves.

FARMINGTON -- Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative is serving as the collection point for personal protection equipment that is going out to the 20 districts served by the co-op in this part of the state, according to Bryan Law, director.

Law said last week that the governor's office and the Arkansas Department of Education have ordered protection equipment for all teachers and staff. This equipment is located in Little Rock and Law and others have gone to pick it up and bring it to the co-op building in Farmington.

From there, the equipment is distributed to school districts in Benton and Washington counties and Huntsville School District in Madison County.

Other agencies, such as Washington County Emergency Management Department, have come along to help pick up the equipment in Little Rock on behalf of the schools.

John Luther, director of the emergency management department, said he began hearing that schools did not have all the items they needed to start school. He said the equipment was on order but had not arrived yet.

A survey was conducted to find out schools' needs and a large order was prepared to get the personal protection equipment from the state's stockpile, Luther said.

Luther and a member of his staff drove to Little Rock to pick up supplies using a Suburban and a trailer. Law has made a couple of trips himself to get equipment for schools.

"It was a good partnership," Luther said last week.

Equipment includes face shields for all teachers, three-ply masks, N95 masks, disinfectant wipes, medical grade gloves and thermometers.

"There were thousands and thousands of pieces of equipment," Luther said.

Luther said the department is willing to help with transportation in the future if needed. His staff makes regular trips to Little Rock and would be glad to help out, he said.

"It takes us all. We want to be as efficient as we can," Luther said.

Law said he believes schools had a good start for the year. The co-op's plan is to continue to meet the needs of its 20 districts this year and part of that will be trips to Little Rock to get supplies for teachers and staff, he added.

COURTESY PHOTO This trailer is filled with personal protection equipment for school districts that are a part of Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative. Coop staff and staff with Washington County Emergency Management Department have made trips to Little Rock to pick up the equipment from the state's stockpile to help provide safety from the new coronavirus.

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