Prairie du Chien, Seneca schools lend UV cabinets for disinfecting

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By Ted Pennekamp


The Prairie du Chien and Seneca school districts have lent some ultraviolet (UV) machines from their science departments to Crawford County for disinfecting masks.

“The Prairie du Chien School District graciously donated four UV cabinets to our county to be used to disinfect N95 masks,” said Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Marc Myhre. “Seneca School District has donated two UV cabinets as well. These cabinets have been distributed throughout our county to assist with the disinfection of N95 masks for all first responders and fire personnel.”

Myhre said the locations of these cabinets are at Bluff Haven Assisted Living facility, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, the Ferryville and Wauzeka Fire Departments, and the Soldiers Grove Health Services.

The Sheriff’s Department is working with the officers of the Prairie du Chien Police Department to disinfect N95 masks for local businesses also. 

In addition, Myhre said businesses outside of the city have county deputies retrieve and return supplies after disinfection. For example, if a local dentist’s office needs to have their masks disinfected, Prairie du Chien officers or the sheriff’s department will collect the masks from the office, disinfect them, and then return them to the originating office.

“This has been going great as we are not seeing more requests for N95 masks from these locations,” said Myhre. “That was the goal of our department to not waste the current supplies we have in our county but to find a way to reuse/recycle the items that can be reused. Without the use of these cabinets, it is the belief of Emergency Management that we would currently be in a deficit in our supply of N95s.”

Myhre said officers and deputies have been disinfecting not only N95s but also handcuffs and goggles/glasses. “We believe that these machines are being used enough to keep the supply and demand of N95s to a minimum,” he noted.

Myhre said the UV machines work by placing an N95 or multiple N95 masks inside the cabinet and closing the doors. Some machines have a lock that must be enabled to run the machine. Once the doors are shut and secured, there is a turn dial on the side of the machine to activate the light. 

“We were advised to use the recommended time on the side of the cabinet or 10 minutes per side of an N95 mask,” said Myhre.

The nursing home facilities have not needed to wear N95s yet because there has been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the facilities, noted Myhre. Fire department personnel, EMS, and law enforcement are wearing masks. Also, the city of Prairie du Chien staff, public health, dentistry offices, and others are making use of the masks and UV disinfection machines.

“We would like to thank both of these school districts for graciously donating these UV cabinets during this COVID-19 crisis,” said Myhre. “We checked with all school districts in Crawford County and luckily both Seneca and Prairie du Chien were happy to support the community with donating these light cabinets.”

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