DLA Aviation provides critical part to hospital in the wake of Hurricane Maria

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

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The evening of Sept. 18, Hurricane Maria roared through the Island of Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane. A week later the Military Liaison Office in the Barbados and Eastern Caribbean U.S. Embassy reached out to Defense Logistics Agency Aviation with a critical support need from the main hospital in Roseau, the capital of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica. 

Army Lt. Col. Louis Netherland, the plans and operations officer for the Liaison Office assigned to U.S. Southern Command, contacted the DLA Aviation Logistics Operations Office of the Fusion Operations Division in the Customer Operations Directorate, who then reached out to Marita Beckles, chief, Air Force Foreign Military Sales and Civil Aviation Team, Air Force Division, Customer Operations Directorate, DLA Aviation Sept. 26.  Through her efforts and other DLA Aviation team members, the contract was awarded 10 days later on Oct. 6 and the critical part was delivered Oct. 8. 

Beckles said the part needed, a pressure transducer that looks like a spark plug, supports the oxygen equipment used in the hospital’s intensive care unit and facilitates pumping oxygen for the emergency room and regulates air flow. 

Netherland said there were no spare transducers on hand and if the system failed and the transducer was damaged on site, it would mean a loss of power and have severe repercussions for the hospital’s ability to treat patients and hurricane victims.  

“The request came in as a high priority,” said Beckles. “But, the customer provided a part number that was not managed by DLA Aviation.” 

Beckles reached out to her team lead, Paula Kanervikkoaho, who is the lead customer account specialist on the AF FMS team. 

Kanervikkoaho researched the part number and discovered that the part they were looking for, a 150 pounds per square inch transducer, was no longer in production. However, she was able to find the same transducer that had a higher 250 psi capability available on the shelf from a commercial source. 

The SOUTHCOM chief surgeon approved the alternate part number. Once the funds were finalized from Barbados, Kanervikkoaho created a sales order using an unassigned local part number to create a purchase requisition.  

Once the needed information for the purchase to proceed was obtained, Kanervikkoaho forwarded the information to Danita Davis, a supervisory contract specialist in the Emergency Contracting Supplier Branch of Supplier Support Division, Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, DLA Aviation on Oct. 5.

Beckles quickly contacted Davis, who said several actions started happening simultaneously to turn the request around in three days.  While DLA Finance - Aviation was coordinating the transfer of funds between the hospital and SOUTHCOM and purchase approval with DLA Headquarters, Davis and Beckles called the supplier to arrange for a quote that same day. 

Davis evaluated the PR on Oct. 6 and sent it to Chester Keeton, a product specialist in Davis’ division.  Keeton verified that the supplier was capable of making the part to its required specifications while Davis coordinated transportation with David Pferdehirt, who works in traffic management in DLA Distribution’s Transportation Office.

Once all the pieces were in place and Keeton’s review was complete, Davis was able to award the contract in less than an hour.  Pferdehirt arranged for three transducers to be pickup by a 24-hour carrier delivery service at the contractor facility.  With Dominica's airport closed to commercial aircraft, DLA coordinated a direct shipment to Netherland’s office where once received, it was placed on board the next available disaster response aircraft headed to the island and delivered to the hospital on Oct. 8. 

“The hospital received the transducer and was able to maintain uninterrupted power to the hospital in Roseau for the following two weeks until power was fully restored,” said Netherland.