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Medical logistics team prepares for long fight

A section of the Medical Treatment Facility is sectioned off, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. This section of the MTF is the isolation wing for Airmen that tested postive for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

A section of the Medical Treatment Facility is sectioned off, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. This section of the MTF is the isolation wing for Airmen that tested postive for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

Plastic gloves sit on a shelf, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The medical logistics team were able to procure sneeze guards, and even went to a local company who built face shields for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

Plastic gloves sit on a shelf, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The medical logistics team were able to procure sneeze guards, and even went to a local company who built face shields for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

A box of medical masks sits on a table in the medical logistics warehouse, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The medical logistics team was able to gather supplies in preparation for COVID-19 in less than a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

A box of medical masks sits on a table in the medical logistics warehouse, May 19, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The medical logistics team was able to gather supplies in preparation for COVID-19 in less than a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 366th Healthcare Operations Squadron began preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic before things started to really kick off. This early readiness gave the medical logistics team enough time to minimize their chance of becoming overwhelmed.

“As COVID-19 kicked off, we did some things that were not asked of us,” said Master Sgt. Mark Hurd, 366th HOS medical logistics flight chief. “We began an early preparation of things like face masks, gowns and gloves.”

The medical logistics team were able to procure sneeze guards, and even went to a local company who built face shields for Airmen.

“We did a lot of things that were outside of the normal, everyday ‘we have our requirements, we order them and they come in,’” Hurd said.

Even with the high demand for medical supplies, the logistics team acted fast and were able to get all of their supplies in under a week.

A main concern of theirs was the Medical Treatment Facility had no rooms with negative air flow, meaning they couldn’t control the air in that particular room. This could become a problem for COVID-19 patients.

“We deemed it necessary to build temporary rooms where we could shut off the air handling systems,” Hurd said. “This way there was no cross contamination throughout the facility.”

Alongside these new rooms, the MTF created their isolation wing which is sealed off from other parts of the facility.

“Airmen will come in the back door to the COVID section so that they don’t contaminate anyone,” said Capt. Jill Ochoa, 366 HOS medical logistics flight commander. “This is where they will be tested.”

These changes in pace at work have also prepared Airmen that will be heading down-range.

“When you deploy, you aren’t going to have a truck that delivers supplies everyday,” Hurd said. “You aren’t always going to have the ability to go drive a patient down to a local hospital when they need more care than you can provide.”

Hurd explained that preparing early for this, has allowed his Airmen to see a real impact of their job.

“For the Airmen who think they just push a button and supplies come in, now they understand the very real reason they wear this uniform and why it’s important,” Hurd said. “There’s a sense of innovation and we focus on what’s relevant because what was important four months ago is not what’s important now.”

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