NEW CUMBRELAND, Pa. –
Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Hill, Utah, is home to DLA distribution’s exclusive depot level maintenance repair facility for two- and three-sided expandable shelters. The shelter repair team partners with the Deployable Medical Systems team, who pack medical supplies into the shelter before shipment. For example, the shelter repair team will build an operating room and install the lights and equipment and the DEPMEDS team will fully pack it with all the items needed for field use as a stocked operating room.
DEPMEDS customers include U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, the Air Force, U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity and the Army’s Natick Soldier System Center. These self-contained, portable units are capable of being positioned quickly in an area of operations during contingencies or national emergencies.
“The mission here at DDHU has increased by 58% over the past two fiscal years,” Andrew Bingham, senior maintenance supervisor in the Medical Assembly and Shelter Repair and Refurbishment section, said. “This mission increase is due to the addition of new composite flooring that will be used in many of the refurbished shelters, as well as the addition of the development and production of the Air Force [F-35] modular shelter.”
The F-35’s Lightning Modular Extendable Rigid Wall Shelter is a deployed debrief facility for the fighter squadrons. DDHU is repairing, refurbishing and modernizing the 1400 square foot expandable shelters used as functional operations centers for the squadrons.
Preston Kriegshauser, deputy director for DDHU could not be prouder of those working the shelter repair mission. “Each individual working to complete these shelters has a comprehensive understanding that the variety and complexity of these shelters serves the warfighter in many ways. Shelters are built as hospitals, surgery centers, dentist offices and many other functions which our forces in the field can access as needed. The pride of workmanship displayed with each shelter repair or refurbishment instills a true sense of accomplishment and gives each individual a true sense that their work is directly connected to the warfighter.”
The shelters are shipped to DDHU by sea, air or land (truck) depending on where they’re coming from.
“Traditionally, we are scheduled and fully booked out about two fiscal years ahead, but we are always willing to help our customers if they have an emergency or critical mission requirement,” Christopher Huff, supervisor special projects, Shelter Repair Division, said.
DDHU typically builds 10 to 12 full hospital sets at a time. As units receive shelters, they return old shelters to DDHU, preventing shortfalls or failures to meet mission requirements. DDHU inspects the returned shelters, placing them in storage by shelter type in the container yard and then using them to build the next hospital kit. DDHU is currently storing over 300 shelters for USAMMA and Army’s Natick Soldier System Center. To support the warfighter in the field, DDHU also sends parts to the services for field repair.
“We have a great working relationship with our customers and because we are directly funded by them, the process for making changes and updates is very efficient. Our director and division chief know our capabilities, trust us as the subject matter experts and allow us to do what is needed to satisfy our customer’s needs,” Huff said.
The team is in the process of renovating shelter No. 4 to be available this summer. The plan is for every F-35 squadron in the Air Force to have one of these systems for deployment.
Like many organizations in DLA that perform critical missions, DDHU’s shelter repair division continued operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep their mission going, they split the shop in half, with people volunteering to work a swing shift and working two shifts to maintain social distancing for six months during the peak times – allowing them to continue work uninterrupted.