‘Shield our Heroes’ provides PPE for Bay Area’s health care, public service workers

A volunteer-based group called 'Shield Our Heroes' is making and donating personal protective equipment to healthcare and public service workers around the Bay Area.

The group began a little more than two weeks ago in the Danville/San Ramon area, according to group coordinator Shawn Dastmalchi. He said another volunteer, Behzad Bahadori, initially began working with a medical worker on prototypes for face shields. That collaboration eventually led to Dastmalchi putting out a call on the Nextdoor app for volunteers to make personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of COVID-19.

“It ended up that more than 50 people responded and all of a sudden this turned into a pretty sizeable operation of both building the PPEs and delivering throughout the Bay Area,” Dastmalchi said.

Shield Our Heroes now has at least 70 volunteers and they welcome anyone who wants to join or start at hub in their neighborhood. Hubs currently exist in the East Bay, South Bay, and the Peninsula. The group receives donations of supplies to make cloth masks, plastic gowns, and face shields. They also take in donations of N-95 masks from other companies for distribution.

On Thursday, Dastmalchi and a group of volunteers delivered 200 face shields, roughly 200 cloth and N-95 masks, and 50 plastic gowns to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. It was a much appreciated donation of personal protective equipment, according to Dr. Christopher Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine.

“I don’t think anybody really anticipated the quantities that were going to be necessary,” Colwell said. “Facing the shortages that we face, this is an incredibly generous and valuable donation.”

On the same day, volunteer Kathy Murray delivered a box of washable and reusable masks to the Walnut Creek Police Department. The masks were donated to Shield Our Heroes from TekTailor, a cutting and sewing manufacturer based in Santa Rosa.

“Even though I was doing my regular day job in the health system, I was really feeling I needed to contribute in a more direct way,” Murray said. “This is additional work to protect our community and particularly the health care workers that are so overwhelmed.”

Sgt. Ryan Hibbs at Walnut Creek PD expressed gratitude for the donation of masks.

“These are great because we’ll be able to utilize these in the field and we’ll be able to redirect the N-95 masks that we’ve been using to the medical threshold,” Hibbs said.

Shield Our Heroes has delivered nearly 3,000 items to more than 30 Bay Area organizations, including hospitals, medical clinics, police departments and local agencies.

“This is really all about the community that sprang into action to fulfill this need for PPEs and it’s really the tireless and compassionate efforts of our volunteers that has made this possible,” Dastmalchi said. “This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Dr. Colwell said he is grateful the public has stepped up at a time when it’s most needed.

“It’s really hard to put into words how much this is appreciated,” he added. “This is going to keep healthcare providers safe so we can take care of patients.”

Volunteers are needed in the South Bay and Peninsula hubs. If you’re interested, visit: https://shieldourheroes.wordpress.com/