FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The people of the Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Works are collectively leaning into supporting the post’s COVID-19 pandemic response.The staff, as a whole, is also exercising creativity, and doing things above and beyond their normal duties, according to Joseph Wyka, director of DPW.“We’re focused on COVID-19 as our primary task right now. Every day we come to work, all of us lean in and see what we need to do to support the CG (Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general) and the ongoing training here,” Wyka said.“My guidance to my staff is to be creative and be proactive – lean into the problems that show up,” he added. “If it’s something you can help with, don’t worry so much if it’s in your lane or not, just engage and move the ball down the field – that’s been my guidance and I think they’ve enjoyed being able to help.”That help has ranged from getting the post’s in-processing and quarantine facilities ready to go in Bldgs. 313, 314 and 315; producing and installing signage leading newcomers to the facilities; to installing Plexiglas shields in high-traffic areas such as the ID card section in Bldg. 5700, and helping both the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and commissary with their shields – “a team effort,” Wyka said; to donating personal protective equipment the DPW Environment Division had in stock to the garrison’s efforts; to designing hand-washing stations for high-traffic areas on post; to working with teams to plan on how to deep clean and restore any areas on post that may become exposed to the virus.DPW also continues to work with its many contractor partners who help keep the post running with how to keep social distancing yet still get the job done, he added.“A lot of our contractors work elbow to elbow, so we’ve had to help them adapt their procedures to be able to continue construction and maintenance without violating social distancing – we’ve been successful at doing that.“We’ve also had to defer some tasks. There are some areas where we would normally have people working in confined spaces together, so we’ve deferred some of that maintenance until after this has passed,” Wyka added.But there have been challenges, according to the director, with some outside contractors experiencing difficulties getting materials. “Things like cabinets – all kinds of things that you might not expect there to be shortages of, but maybe there was cabinet shop that was going to build cabinets, but right now they’re taking a pause. Some things like that have been a challenge for us every day.”There’s also a shortage of portable hand-washing stations for purchase for high-traffic areas, forcing the DPW team to design and build their own to use around the post. “We’re fabricating those from scratch –most people don’t think of that, but we have the ability with our shops to fabricate things like that. It’s kind of fun and satisfying to be able to be a little creative and use a little ingenuity, and ultimately increase our posture as far as protecting us from COVID-19.”Above and beyond the COVID-19 response, DPW workers are still hard at work – largely teleworking from home and only going into the office when necessary – continuing with their normal missions, such as environmental protection, operations and maintenance, managing the contracts that keep the post infrastructure going, planning and design, and housing, Wyka said.“Those are all still going forward, I would say they may have slowed a little bit, but we’re still moving forward,” he said.Wyka said he is proud of the DPW team and how members have responded to the current situation.“Things are going very well at DPW – we’ve transitioned smoothly to telework,” he said. “Most of the feedback I get from our staff is that they are very ready to return to work, and very much miss their coworkers and those interactions.“Our approach has been to relook our priorities and our priority when we come to work right now is COVID-19 response, and being available – on the phone, on email or in person – when someone needs something.“This is new ground for all of us,” he continued. “It’s been exciting to work so closely with the other directorates, and I think everyone is kind of dealing with the same thing. I think Fort Rucker is doing very well handling this.”