Teamwork provides protective masks quickly

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Deborah Jackson (right), a project manager for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency at Albany, Georgia, and her colleagues Robert Brantley (center), a material expeditor, and Jeremy Sexton, a project supervisor, begin to inventory, prepare, and palletize the 154,000 N95 masks to prepare them for shipment.

By Tim Hoyle
DLA Disposition Services

ALBANY, Georgia, April 13, 2020 — Quick efforts by elements of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Transportation Command moved 154,000 N95 masks from storage at Albany, Georgia, to make them available to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services or the military in their response to COVID-19.

Joseph Webb, DSCA’s Humanitarian Assistance Program Manager, notified Carol Fix, a specialist in the Reutilization, Transfer and Donation Program at the DLA Disposition Services, that he had masks to turn in from the Humanitarian Assistant Program’s warehouse on Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia. His message to Fix said the masks on hand included various sizes with 200 in each package.

Fix prepared the paperwork that would help transfer custody of the items to DLA and allow Disposal Service Representative Kelly Clabbers to receive the masks and request their shipment to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, which the team was able to accomplish in less than 48 hours.

Clabbers was able to complete all of her required actions from Fort Benning, Georgia. The items were accepted into the system on the evening of March 31 so they could become available for reutilization or transfer. Clabbers said the quick shipment to Scott AFB that day would not have been possible without additional help from Deborah Jackson, who works in HAP office in Albany, and Gregory Mayo, the DLA Distribution rigging and special missions supervisor there.

“They were able to get a truck out, April 1, the same day the orders were received, which arrived at Scott the following day,” Clabbers said.  “It was an honor to work with all involved, and felt great to be doing such a significant part to help with the shortage and the efforts against the spread of COVID-19.”

James Eason, a HAP employee at Albany, said that under normal conditions, all of the equipment they store is identified for donation to partner nations under DSCA’s Humanitarian Assistance Excess Property program. Once Webb identified the masks for U.S. use, he said the HAP team worked to inventory, prepare, palletize and load the masks on the trucks ordered by DLA.

“While DLA did order the transportation and provide the paperwork, it was HAP’s workers that actually got the items ready for use,” Eason said.   

Mayo described the effort as a coordinated team effort with the Distribution Special Missions and Transportation sections. Once he received notification that the shipment was a priority in support of COVID-19, Mayo said Patrice Asberry, the special missions work leader, located the material and prepared it for loading while the Transportation section coordinated a driver for transport that day.

“With their hard work and dedication, the masks were loaded and on their way to their destination in a matter of hours.”

Andre Charlton, director for DLA Distribution at Albany, was grateful that his personnel were part of the team.

I’m extremely proud of the HAP partners and the Distribution team in Albany, especially those in the Transportation and Special Mission sections, who shipped the masks out quickly,” Charlton said. “It’s a true testament of our small but mighty presences in the DLA enterprise.”

The masks were met at the base by Air Force Maj William D. Sherman, who serves as the medical logistician at USTRANSCOM's Command Surgeon Directorate. As the single manager for patient movement, USTRANSCOM’s staff realized the need for additional N95 masks to protect aircrews, aeromedical evacuation and critical care teams, and entry control point teams evacuating Defense Department patients who tested positive for COVID-19 at locations outside of the continental United States back home.

“Even though these were high demand items, within days, DLA was able to locate 154,000 serviceable masks for reutilization and organized the overnight transport of 15 pallets to USTRANSCOM's Patient Movement Item Center warehouse,” Sherman said.

Sherman said the masks are being sent to units with validated requirements in preparation for the movement of infectious patients and the protection of the joint force.

Likewise, DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon noted in his weekly report to DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams that the RTD Program has also provided more than 325,000 masks to other requestors, 20,000 hospital gowns, 2 tents and 60 cots.  Six serviceable ventilators and many other items have also been flagged in the excess property inventory.

“We provide our list daily to the DLA COVID-19 Task Force and issue items upon their approval, Cannon said. “Our field teammates remain at the point of the spear of our efforts and are truly providing world-class support to the warfighter.”