HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville is providing concept solutions and engineering sketches for site assessments for the Corps of Engineers districts to assist in the conversion of hotels, barracks and arenas into alternate care facilities capable of providing care during our nation’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The Corps of Engineers has authority to work directly for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in executing Emergency Support Function #3 - Public Works and Engineering.
The current FEMA Mission Assignment is to provide initial planning and engineering support nationwide to address medical facility shortages in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As the Corps of Engineers Mandatory Center of Expertise for Medical Facility Design, Huntsville Center engineers were quickly brought in by Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE.
“We got the mission assignment for planning and initial response,” said Wade Doss, Huntsville Center Engineering Director.
“We’re providing conceptual solutions. And identifying what needs to happen—performance work specs like notional schedules and deliverables they need from the contractor. We received a request from the chief directly to us because we had the Medical Center of Expertise and we leveraged the whole enterprise and pulled in the medical support teams from Little Rock (District) and Mobile District.”
Doss said experts from the Corps' Engineering Research and Development Center were a growing part of the team as well.
Huntsville Center is also providing two points of contact for each Major Supporting Commands across the Corps enterprise and we’re answering their requests for information and requests for assistance from across the country.
Huntsville Center is taking every precaution to safeguard its workforce, including its families, contractors and federal employees through liberal leave and maximum telework implementation, minimizing face-to-face meetings to mission essential personnel and conducting engagements virtually, doing our part to reduce the curve of the coronavirus pandemic.
While most of the Huntsville Center workforce are on telework while executing their mission, there is still a requirement for boots on the ground in New York; currently the epicenter of the crisis.
Huntsville Center deployed Anthony Travia, division chief with its Medical Center of Expertise, to New York to assist the Corps’ New York District with assessments for alternate care facilities.
This week, construction began as the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan is refitted into a 1,000-bed hospital and an additional 1,800 field medical stations. The medical facility is slated to begin operating in a week to 10 days.
Anticipating other states needing alternate care facilities similar to New York, a Huntsville Center Engineering Directorate team executed a rapid translation of technical requirements, transforming them into digestible documents for use throughout USACE.
“We have the mission assignment for planning and initial response. We’re providing conceptual solutions and identifying what needs to happen—performance work specifications like notional schedules and other deliverables they need for the contractor,” Doss said.
Jelani Ingram, Huntsville Center Acting Branch Chief of Architecture, recognizes his team’s efforts have influenced decisions and response planning at the highest levels of government.
“It's great to be on the front lines and part of a mission that is working hand-in-hand with our medical professionals, supporting FEMA and our state and local partners to combat this disease and help save lives,” Ingram said.
Doss said his team is doing all they can to support the critical mission of producing ACFs across the country, while working remotely from their homes.
“We have a team of about 30 and they are communicating well using email, phones, Skype, texts and group texts and conference calls—were using every form of communication available to cross-talk among team members,” Doss said.
Doss said delivering the program to the MSCs is an exciting challenging, his team is executing at record speeds.
“We’re getting a request for deliverables that would normally take weeks and we are getting them out in hours, we’re doing things quickly and getting to the good solution fast because time is of the essence.”
For more information on Alternate Care Facilities, link here.