Veteran-led disaster relief group delivers protective gear to crews on coronavirus front lines in Boulder County

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) – They’re used to fighting on the front lines. But for a group of Colorado veterans, this is a different kind of war.

Members of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster relief charity, spent Friday handing out personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it most in Boulder County while they fight the spread of COVID-19.

“Earlier today we got a shipment of 28,000 surgical masks,” said Jordon Daniel as he showed FOX31 around the storage room of the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, where thousands of N-95 masks, gloves, medical gowns and sterilizing supplies are being dispersed.

“We’re hitting all of the fire departments, the police departments, park rangers, EMS outfits, pretty much anybody who could potentially be in contact with somebody who’s been exposed or already has the virus,” said Anne Oakes, communications director of Team Rubicon Colorado.

Much of the gear was ordered by Boulder County officials weeks ago. Some of it was donated by local businesses that are shut down. All of it is being sent directly to those who need it most.

“We’re visiting hospitals, long-term living facilities, nursing facilities, everyone who is currently out there working right now and fighting the fight against COVID-19,” Oakes said.

Team Rubicon isn’t a typical disaster response team. They’re a non-profit that unites military veterans with first responders, providing relief to those in need all over the world. They’ve been in 500 relief operations globally.

“We might be doing muck outs for a flood, we might be doing cleanups and rebuilds after a tornado or a hurricane,” Oakes said.

The charity was founded a decade ago by a small group of veterans who traveled to Haiti to help with earthquake relief there.

It should come as no surprise that veterans make for perfect volunteers in the Boulder County operation.

“There’s not a lot of questions, you just pretty much give them a task, tell them what you need done and they go to work and fix that. And that’s what we need right now, because there’s more than enough need out there. So having a group of people come in and be self-starters is invaluable to what we’re doing right now,” said Mike Chard, director of the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management.

They’re men and women who protected lives when they served around the country. And the very equipment they’re handing out now could save lives right here at home.

“We’re doing our best to give people on the front lines the equipment they need so they can keep taking care of sick people and doing their job,” Chard said.

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