By Jennifer Mayerle

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Agencies that are used to stepping up for the community are now asking for help.

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Chisago County Emergency Management held a donation drive Wednesday for people to drop off PPE, or personal protective equipment. It’s for first responders on the frontlines.

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The all-volunteer fire department in Center City is ready to respond to calls in the community. And there’s eight departments like them in Chisago County. They along with law enforcement are on the frontline, interacting with people on calls when we’re supposed to exercise social distancing. Scott Sellman is the county’s emergency management director.

“These are the individuals, if you call 911 and you fit the criteria, they will come in and they’re the ones that are going to treat you at your house, determine if you’re going to be transported or not,” Sellman said.

They’re in desperate need of PPE. There’s a shortage throughout the country, and they don’t know when their orders will arrive. So Chisago County Emergency Management turned to the community to ask them to donate what they have at home.

“What we’re trying to do is get them enough to get by for a week to a month with the supplies that we’re getting in now so they can actually respond and do their jobs,” Sellman said.

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They’re most in need of hand sanitizer and the hard-to-come-by N95 respirator masks. Thanks to community donations, they have three to four days’ worth of supplies. That includes gowns and rubber gloves.

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Jim Marxer is Center City’s volunteer assistant fire chief. He says they’ve come up with a plan of last resort.

“It’s a little unnerving. We do have the ability, you know, to shift to our turnout gear. We have a means of cleaning that if we need to,” Marxer said. “We have our masks that we use with our air packs. We have filter kits for those.”

They’re grateful people who live in the county and count on them are willing to do their part when it matters most.

“It’s all part of the community. We help each other out. We help them out, and there’s times where we need their help,” Marxer said.

They plan to hold another drop off drive. They’ll post the information on the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

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If you have a donation, you can also reach out to Sellman at 651-775-9973, or email him at

Jennifer Mayerle