OGDEN, Utah -- Soldiers and civilians don face masks, in accordance with Department of Defense recommendation, and begin work each day inspecting and servicing countless types of medical equipment belonging to Army Reserve at the Medical Equipment Concentration Site, 88th Readiness Division in Ogden, Utah. Those Soldiers and Civilians at the MECS 88 have volunteered to work long hours, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, April 17, 2020.
MECS 88, a facility which houses and services medical equipment in the area of responsibility of the 88th Readiness Division, has seen a significant increase in demand for medical equipment as a result of the COVID-19 related medical response. To accommodate the demand on its full-time employees, the facility has brought on Army Reserve Soldiers from the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), to assist in preventative maintenance and repairs on the equipment prior to sending it into the field for use.
“The role MECS 88 plays in the COVID-19 response is getting all the priority equipment ready to go so as soon as they need it, it can be delivered in a timely manner,” said Kelly Chartier, a civilian project manager with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, who works full-time at MECS 88. “For any units that are getting called up for COVID-19 response, our priority is getting all their equipment ready for the units to take with them.”
“Here at the facility, we’re responsible for making sure that the equipment is fully mission capable, ready to go out the door on a moment’s notice,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Korey Rasmussen, training to be a health services maintenance technician with the 971st Medical Logistics Company, who was brought onto orders to help facilitate the training of Soldiers coming in to help with the COVID-19 response.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the employees at the MECS 88 facility have worked extra to meet the demand of medical supplies.
“We’ve had to switch to longer hours,” said Chartier. “We’re open 15 hours a day now so I’ve split the shifts into two just so we can run the ventilators longer since we don’t have the space to add more vent calibration stations, I’ve just made the facility open longer so we can run longer times on those vent calibration stations.”
The most essential piece of medical equipment that MECS 88 stores is the portable ventilator. These ventilators have been in higher demand than all other equipment maintained by the facility.
“The Army Reserve mostly has the Impact 754 ventilator which is an older model and takes the longest time to calibrate.” said Chartier. “It’s a lifesaving piece of equipment and so it has a higher priority.”
On account of the pandemic response, the facility has seen an increase in request for life-saving equipment.
At MECS 88, we are qualified to calibrate the Hamilton T1 ventilators so all of those will come here , said Chartier. “In the past, we’ve maintained a higher readiness than the units for the other repair facilities.”
The Reserve Soldiers brought on have received training in how to service and repair the equipment in preparation for deployment.
“We have a great group of Soldiers that have come in to help with the response,” said Rasmussen. “They’ve been very adaptive to the process here. They’re taking the training and absorbing it and hopefully it will help them in their careers when they go back to their units as well.”
As the demand for this equipment increases, the required amount of maintenance and service increases to match the demand. The MECS 88 facility plays a critical role in this mission.
“The main benefit of MECS 88 is maintaining a higher readiness for the equipment we have stored here,” said Chartier. “The issue is getting services for the medical equipment that’s out in the field so that if it’s stored here, it’s got a much higher readiness rating than the equipment that’s floating around and they have to try to reach out to other units to get that biomedical support to calibrate their equipment.”
“Our mission is very critical,” said Rasmussen. “At any time, we could be sending equipment out the door to support these units. Whether it’s ventilators, O2 concentrators or any sort of life-saving device. Having the equipment ready to go to facilitate what the nurses and the doctors that are fighting this on the front lines, is very important.”