LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU)-- Western Technical College in La Crosse has several training programs in health and public safety that require medical supplies and equipment in the classroom.
However, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the school has decided to do something else with those items.
"We have a lot of these supplies sitting here and we have no students," said Kevin Dean, the Western dean of health and public safety. "So, we know the need is so great out in the community that we are donating basically everything we have, especially in personal protection items-- gloves, masks, gowns, eye glasses, cleaning supplies."
So far Western has donated supplies to local first responders, EMS, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Anyone in the front line the school can help, it says it will.
"So far we've had 21 different requests and we've been able to give everybody at least something, some type of supply they needed," Dean said. "I would say over half of them have gone to our local EMS and first responder agencies."
Western has also donated five or six ventilators used in classroom training to Gundersen and Mayo.
The technical college urges other schools and universities to donate whatever supplies they have as well, as Western says it is simply the right thing to do.
"We would rather have all of the supplies and equipment out there helping people now than sitting in a supply room waiting for classes to come in place," Dean said.
The dean knows how critical the supply shortage is first-hand.
"I'm also a local first responder myself and volunteer so I know in my own squad the needs that we have," said Dean.
Western says the response from those receiving the items has been emotional.
"They were close to tears, literally, when we handed them the items because they just didn't know what they were going to do and you can't order them anywhere," Dean said. "Everyone is out and everyone is running short already, so the response has been great."
Donating all the supplies will effect the budget down the road Western says, but right now they say it's time to help one another.