DLA Troop Support and Distribution get hand-washing stations to the field in less than 30 hours

By Nancy Benecki DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The largest training population in the Department of Defense needed better hand-washing options to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, so officials turned to the Defense Logistics Agency for a quick solution.

U.S. Army base Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, serves more than 30,000 meals daily at 13 dining facilities. Some facilities date back to the 1960s and lack adequate hand-washing areas, said Thomas Hall, the branch chief of group rations and equipment in the Subsistence supply chain at the DLA Troop Support.

After working with the customer on the specifications of their needs, DLA Troop Support received the order and immediately started coordinating with DLA Distribution on this urgent order to turn it around quickly, Hall said.

The Subsistence supply chain’s food service equipment team worked with Fort Leonard Wood and created the request for the hand-washing stations on March 17 at 9:15 a.m. Thomas Henry, general supply specialist with DLA Distribution Headquarters, said he started working on the requests at 10 a.m. The hand-washing stations were packed and ready to be shipped by 5 p.m., arriving at Fort Leonard Wood the following day at 1 p.m., Henry said.

Proper handwashing is incredibly important and is one of the simplest ways to protect against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The field hand-washing stations are a commonly supplied stock item for the military, Hall said. The stations have four sinks on each side with a soap dispenser. A 20-gallon reservoir is filled with clean water, which is pumped out via a foot pedal. The used water goes into a separate reservoir that is emptied.

The stations are also bulky, according to Hall, coming in boxes over five feet tall and two feet wide.

“I will say most kudos need to be directed at [DLA Distribution in] New Cumberland for pulling 48 very large field hand-washing stations, loading them on a truck, and having that truck depart by close of business, arriving at its final destination within 30 hours of the receipt of the order,” Hall said.

During this worldwide pandemic, orders with a fast turnaround are becoming more common, Hall said.

“Urgency is the new normal for certain things,” Hall said, adding that the Subsistence and Medical supply chains are receiving more orders in response to the coronavirus.

Working with DLA Installation Support Distribution was key to getting the hand-washing stations to Fort Leonard Wood with such expediency, he added.

The request itself was not particularly unusual for Henry, who said he commonly gets expedited requests.

“I do these every day,” Henry said. “Anywhere from something as small as a nut to flatbeds, and if Distribution can find a carrier to lead the requested delivery, we’ll do it.”

The “symbiotic” relationship between DLA Troop Support and Distribution helped get the stations to Fort Leonard Wood as quickly as possible, Henry said.

“Without both of us involved, you can’t provide the warfighter with the appropriate support,” Henry said.

Hall agreed.

“This was definitely a perfect example of how things should go, as far as urgency,” Hall said.