Black Hills State University offers science lab to sterilize masks for ambulance services

Local News

SPEARFISH, S.D. (KELO) — Black Hills State University is offering its science lab to sterilize masks so that they can be reused by medical professionals on the front lines of the pandemic.

The halls at Black Hills State University are pretty quiet. Which makes it a great opportunity for the Spearfish Ambulance Services to use the school’s autoclave to clean personal protective equipment.

“There’s not as many people in the hallways right now, which makes it safe and easy to take care of. BH was just more than willing to help out in any way they could,” Andy Binder, Operations manager for Spearfish Ambulance, said.

The Autoclave is typically used for cleaning glassware from the science labs. Now, the dry steam is being used to sterilize used masks. It is then returned to the ambulance worker. The process can be done about five times.

“If we were to be disposing them, we’d be done in a month, period. We all know that that’s not the case, this is going to go on a lot longer than a month so giving us the chance to reuse them five or 10 times stretches that out immensely,” Binder said.

Mike Overby is the assistant director of facilities at BHSU. He says the first-responders have been coming to campus a few times a week to use the autoclave.

“The city and being the size of Spearfish, Black Hills State just has a great working relationship with all of them, the police force, the ambulances, hospitals,” Overby said.

And during times like this, communities coming together can make an impact.

The sterilization process is supervised by professionals with Spearfish Ambulance Services. The process takes about an hour and half.

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