EDISON – The community has banded together as police continue to investigate the N-95 masks that were stolen from storage closets and off rigs of two first aid squads in the township.
Edison First Aid Squad No. 2 reported a total of 19 N-95 masks missing on two different occasions on March 14 and March 25, according to Police Chief Thomas Bryan.
Edison First Aid Squad No. 1 reported a total of 20 N-95 masks missing on March 24.
Bryan said surveillance video is being reviewed at both locations of the Raritan Valley Regional Emergency Medical Services on New Dover Road. He said there are no signs of forced entry and the missing masks are valued at $100.
After hearing about the thefts, community leaders – Edison Board of Education member Jerry Shi; Mahesh Bhagia, special assistant to Mayor Thomas Lankey; and Edison Councilman Joseph Coyle – led an effort to collect and donate N-95 masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Approximately 900 N-95 masks have been delivered to Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Medical Center and 280 N-95 masks have been delivered to Edison’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) along with a couple dozen goggles, another item that is currently in need by medical professionals dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
“It was very nice of them,” said Edison OEM Coordinator Andy Toth. “[The equipment] went to the hospitals and local doctor offices that were in dire need of them.”
About 20 families from the Edison Chinese American community, and local health care professionals, such as A-1 Dental, took part in donating PPE for the township.
The group was able to secure the equipment through both in kind and monetary donations.
“We spent more than $2,000 to purchase these items, and the rest is through donations,” Shi said. “We will continue to help the hospitals and first responders. All these masks have been either been collected from people’s houses or shipped in.”
Bhagia said the collection of donations “is very important for first responders who don’t have the required equipment and need to be protected.”
“They are always working for us. It’s our responsibility to make sure they are safe in these difficult times,” he said.
Coyle said it has been “a collective effort through all cultures, with a strong effort from the Chinese American community.”
“I have collected supplies from front porches around the state, from Clark to Plainsboro, Princeton to Lebanon,” he said.