JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA — 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) medical professionals and logisticians stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., manufactured personal protective equipment for routine care and protection against the COVID-19 pandemic, March 31, 2020.
As the threat of COVID-19 continues to permeate the region, 1st SFG (A) Soldiers adapt to develop solutions to combat the virus and protect the force within both the Special Operations and JBLM communities. The most recent adaptation is the production of personal protective equipment.
1st SFG (A), Group Support Battalion personnel used their resources and expertise to create prototypes for reusable respirator masks, face shields, and surgical masks for Madigan Army Medical Center and its regional partners.
The 1st SFG (A) riggers repurposed their sewing machines, that are typically used to repair parachutes, to assemble surgical masks.
“The Aerial Delivery Platoon will be able to produce 200 [masks] per day initially, with only five lightweight sewing machines,” said Lt. Col. Christopher S. Jones, 1st SFG (A), GSB commander.
Soldiers will continue to refine the process of producing the masks and improving them with feedback from medical employees.
“We’ll get better by week’s end and be able to produce 1,000 to 1,500 during a normal work week,” Jones added.
The masks will be beneficial immediately to personnel identified by medical professionals.
“The most likely application [of the masks] will be to have a symptomatic patient, one with a cough, sneezing, shortness of breath, wear the mask in order to reduce the amount of respiratory droplets contaminating the environment, helping reduce the likelihood that ill people expose others,” said Col. Rodd E. Marcum, 1st SFG (A) surgeon.
In this period of adjustment for many people, it is important to remember what the priorities are – protecting the force and their families by following medical guidelines.
“Nothing is more important as we work through this unexpected challenge than following the recommendations of public health professionals. Physical or social distancing is critical in reducing the chain of transmission,” said Marcum.
As we continue this fight, Jones expressed pride and confidence in his Soldiers and said he looks forward to witnessing the impact their hard work has on the nation as other forces join the battle against this disease.
“I believe this is a phenomenal effort to help our healthcare professionals and fellow Americans,” said Jones. “We’re collaborating with [Army Special Operations Forces] and conventional forces across the Army to make a difference. The effort in and of itself is a worthwhile exercise in how to innovate to provide solutions, especially as the U.S. military has the best capability in the world.”
Editor’s Note: At the time of publication 1st SFG (A) provided 300 surgical masks to Madigan Army Medical Center.