Salem's sister city, Gimhae, South Korea, sent 20,000 masks to Salem. (Courtesy/ Gabe Benmoussa)

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The Salem Fire Department got a special shipment from South Korea on Wednesday, thanks to Salem’s sister city across the Pacific Ocean.

The department now has 20,000 face masks donated from Gimhae, South Korea after officials reached out to Salem to offer their support a few weeks ago.

Salem Fire Department spokesman Gabe Benmoussa said the city will hold on to them and the emergency operations center will decide how they’re distributed.

Benmoussa said the Salem Fire Foundation helped coordinate and authorize the shipment of KF94 masks.

Monica Pacheco, president of the Salem Fire Foundation, said Salem often exchanges items with its sister city. Last year, she said Salem donated airtanks to Gimhae.

Pacheco said the mask shipment will help keep firefighters safe as they respond to house calls where residents may have Covid.

“It’s nice to know we have the PPE to support our firefighters,” she said. 

The city’s new stockpile comes as other states enter into bidding wars to get needed medical supplies as supply chains are taxed globally.

Benmoussa said the fire department currently has enough protective gear and the operations center will determine where the most immediate mask needs are. 

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Have a story tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.