Late last month, Deer-Grove EMS was the recipient of a special piece of disinfecting equipment created by Bruce Winkler of Innovation Strategies, and built by Electronic Theatre Controls in Middleton.

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating havoc with supply lines for critical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 masks, gowns and face shields, Winkler decided to do something about it.

Sourcing parts from many suppliers, he created a unique device capable of disinfecting used N-95 masks in four minutes or less, allowing them to quickly be put back into service instead of waiting for days to get them sent out and returned. The device is based on the simple toaster oven, retrofitted with LED and UV-C lights that sterilizes by destroying the RNA and DNA of the microbes. Each oven has 48 sources of UV-C light, allowing the rapid and complete disinfection of masks.

After seeing a story on NBC-15, Deer-Grove EMS Lt. Jerry McMullen reached out to Winkler to ask how or if Deer-Grove EMS could secure one of the few devices that was being created. Three weeks later, the service found out it would receive one of the first 10 created by Electronic Theatre Controls.

Later, Winkler delivered, set up and trained Chief Eric Lang and McMullen on the proper use of the device, at no cost to the service.

The donation of this equipment places Deer-Grove EMS in a unique position to help ease the strain on the supply chain for N-95 masks that has plagued fire, EMS and police departments nationwide since the pandemic struck in late February.

“We are now able to help not just our members but surrounding departments extend the life of their critical PPE, and build on the collaboration that is the hallmark of our service with our friends and neighbors,” Lang said.

Deer-Grove EMS is a combination paramedic service that provides medical care to almost 100 square miles of eastern Dane County, including the villages of Cottage Grove and Deerfield, the towns of Cottage Grove and Deerfield, and portions of the Town of Pleasant Springs.

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