Battle Creek, Michigan, March 20, 2020 —
The employees at the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services locations have a long history of making excess military equipment available to help those dealing with emergencies and natural disasters, and the COVID-19 response is no exception.
Carol Fix, a specialist in the Reutilization, Transfer and Donation Program, and her colleagues had been working to identify items to help with the relief efforts from the recent tornadoes in Tennessee, but those efforts shifted to address possible COVID-19 response needs. The RTD staff began researching the global inventory to identify and hold excess items classified as medical, dental, and veterinary equipment and supplies that were turned in by military units. Agency employees wanted to be ready in case such items were needed by agencies responding to the Coronavirus emergency.
“I stop what I am doing to assist with disasters and national emergencies,” Fix said.
Thirty items including hospital beds and other furniture with original acquisition values totaling almost $20,000 had been requisitioned by March 13 to help care for patients. On March 16, employees at the field site on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, searched for positive expiratory pressure ventilators that Fix and Terry Harrington, an area manager in the South-East region, were able to identify.
Harrington took one of the ventilators to the Clark Medical Clinic here at Fort Bragg to confirm it was the right type of equipment, but the medics he spoke with were unable to determine with any certainty if the items were the right instruments.
“I decided to contact the manufacturer, directly, but quickly found out that the original company sold its assets to another company.” Harrington said. Upon discovering this, I contacted technical support for assistance at the second company. After introducing myself as an employee of the Defense Logistics Agency, the technician I spoke was eager to help.
Harrington provided the model and serial numbers of the instruments which the company rep researched items verified that the items were the type of ventilators desired. The rep also agreed to email Harrington the operating manuals. The four ventilators and the manuals were available for shipping within 12 hours of Harrington getting the call for help.
“In light of the magnitude of this crisis, my staff and I were thrilled that we were able to provide the requisite support needed,” Harrington said. “Our role in the fight is an integral one and this opportunity only buttressed that notion.”
Fix and her colleagues have also prepared spreadsheets of additional medical items medical personnel might need plus items such as tents, generators, and more that might be used to support mobile testing facilities. Other sites besides Fort Bragg are reporting in items they have secured from the spreadsheets as well as updates on medical items they expect to receive. Chris Buchanan, director for West region, reported that employees at the Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, are in the process or receiving 15 pallets of medical items.
“People in the field stop what they are doing to help,” Fix said. “We cannot do enough to help those in need.”
The RTD staff will be working with staff at the Department of Health and Human Services, which is coordinating needs, to ship items where HHS says they are needed. Please visit the RTD page
on the DLA Disposition Services website for more information on the program, or call the DLA Customer Interaction Center at 877-352-2255.