The Inter-Tribal Emergency Management Coalition recently received a generous donation of more than 60,000 masks and 26,500 face shields to assist Native Nations across Oklahoma during the coronavirus pandemic. ITEMC Chairman and Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Director of Emergency Management and Housekeeping Tim Zientek organized the donation distribution.
“As Chairman of the Inter-Tribal Emergency Management Coalition, I would like to thank our generous donors for supporting our organization,” Zientek said. “The lifesaving donations we have received and distributed throughout Indian Country have made an enormous impact. We appreciate all our donors and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Established in December 2004, ITEMC brings together tribal emergency management and local, state and national agencies to plan and improve emergency preparedness and response for tribes across Oklahoma. By becoming a 501(c)(3), ITEMC can now accept tax-deductible donations.
“We developed ITEMC because we need to work together and share those resources, whether it’s information that one of us receives or whether its goods that we receive. We share and try to help each other through this crisis because this is something that is unprecedented,” he said.
The recent donation included 60,000 adult-sized and 12,000 youth-sized masks as well as more than 26,000 face shields. ITEMC participating tribes indicated their needs to the Federal Emergency Management Agency who created a list for Zientek and his team to use to separate the masks and face shields to box for delivery.
ITEMC members developed individual plans for a potential pandemic, which gave them a head start on response.
“We’re following our plan, and it’s working,” Zientek said. “We’re tweaking it here and there, but it’s working.”
Zientek and his team of CPN employees have discussed the Nation’s approach to cleaning and disinfecting during the pandemic through ITEMC, which has helped several Tribes develop strategies of their own.
“They’ve implemented their own practices, and we’re happy to share our strategies with the members. That is what makes ITEMC a great organization — we share different approaches and ideas to different situations,” he said.
Throughout the past seven months, Zientek and ITEMC have experienced a true sense of community with tribes, federal, state and local agencies stepping up to share knowledge and supplies.
“I’m humbled, but most of it is just doing what needs to be done,” Zientek said. “And it’s just the right thing to do — working together to help each other.”
For those interested in donating supplies to help tribes across Oklahoma combat the coronavirus pandemic, Zientek encourages reaching out to the organization online: itemc.org.