Local couple make masks for first responders

    A St. James couple has used their time sheltering in place to create masks for first responders. Paul and Lynda Rueff provided masks to the St. James Ambulance District on Friday and have made additional masks for police and residents who need them.

    “There is not a lot we’re able to do right now,” Lynda explained. “Paul had been working at the Rolla Police Department two days a week as a detective. When all this started, they sent him home.” While sitting around their home, they came up with the idea to make masks for themselves. “It made us wonder if the ambulance guys could use those,” she said.
    She contacted Ambulance Chief Bryan Lambeth and he said the district could use them. “It makes their M95 (masks) last longer. We started out and made 50 for the ambulance (district). Then we thought maybe some of the nursing homes could use some,” Rueff said.
    She and Paul contacted three small local nursing homes and asked them if they could use additional masks, which all of them could. “We made 100 total between the three homes,” she said.
    They also contacted the school district and provided 25 to their workers. The Rueffs have mad emasks for their friends and neighbors as well.
    “The mask itself is cotton with elastic bands for the ears. They also have a metal wire for the nose,” Rueff said. Paul uses a 3D printer to mold an extender, allowing the created masks to sit over any additional face protection the user might have on, such as the additional masks ambulance crews wear when on and emergency call.
    “They are eight or nine inches long with notches on the end of it so it can loop over other masks. Bryan and Laurie (Lambeth) have brought us material and elastic. Stanley’s (Garden Center) provided the wire. All I do is the sewing,” Rueff said.
    The Rueffs have received a lot of community support, with several community members contributing material to get started and they are using their free time to give back to those who are working during this time of most of the community forced to stay home. “I’m willing to sew as many as I can sew. It is just something to do,” Rueff said.
    Paul Rueff said it was a way to “Pay it forward” during this time and he is happy to contribute. “We bought material for the first batch, but we have gotten other material and elastic from Caryl Mussig, Carol Molchan, Joy Van Horn, Connie Pirtle, and Kathleen McMeen. They gave me what they had on hand,” Lynda said.
    Lynda said Paul had 3D printed mask extenders for St. James Ambulance as well as the Rolla and St. James Police Departments to attach to the masks she created. The couple will continue to make masks for first responders, as well as community members who need them, for as long as they have materials or until they are no longer necessary. She thanked those who have supported them as they assist the community.