Tobyhanna Army Depot Develops Critical PPE Parts and Power Supplies, Designs Masks to Support Employees Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin applauded Tobyhanna Army Depot for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Army depot partnered with its local Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Luzerne County to make parts for Power Air Purifier Respirators (PAPR) for staff members, designed and supplied clear face masks to support employees who are deaf or hard of hearing, and worked with the U.S. Army Medical Material Agency’s (USAMMA) Medical Maintenance Division-PA to create a new power supply to increase the sustainability of ventilators used by members of the armed forces.

Tobyhanna is one of several military installations supported through DCED’s Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission (PMCEC). The commission provides funding to communities to support and enhance the value of their local military installations.

“Pennsylvanians are coming together to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, and find themselves tapping into qualities long exhibited by our military members and veterans—tenacity, leadership, and strength,” said Sec. Davin. “The Wolf Administration commends Tobyhanna Army Depot for its commitment to community and its work to protect others through the production of critical PPE.”

PAPRs protect healthcare workers from airborne illnesses like COVID-19 and because the respirators are not meant for long-term use, parts need replaced more often. Tobyhanna is using a 3D printer to turn around new, needed parts in 48 hours by reverse engineering provided broken parts. Since the partnership began in early April, Tobyhanna Army Depot-supplied parts have enabled over 30 PAPRs to be brought back into service.

The Army depot also partnered with the USAMMA’s Medical Maintenance Division-PA to develop a power supply compatible to 754M Impact portable ventilators to replace damaged, lifesaving ventilators used by members of the armed forces. With the original power supply no longer available, Tobyhanna worked with Army medical maintenance technicians to design prototypes and soon after sourced required electronic components to build 52 power supplies. USAMMA’s Medical Maintenance Management Directorate (M3D) was able to leverage Tobyhanna’s onsite fabrication, manufacturing, and logistics capabilities to turn around a slightly smaller, quality, compatible power supply in less than 11 days.

With more than 100 staff that interact with nearly two dozen employees who are deaf or hard of hearing, Tobyhanna also developed clear face masks to ensure that those employees had resources to continue working. The concept was born after a concerned employee reached out about the inability to access clear masks. Fabric workers from the army depot’s Systems Integration and Support Directorate’s Equipage Branch worked with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to develop see-through face masks to support personnel who are deaf or hard of hearing. After a pattern was provided, the cotton fabric and clear vinyl masks were developed, tested, and redeveloped several times to ensure a successfully designed mask that didn’t fog and had a comfortable fit.

Additionally, depot employees are working directly with Operation Warp Speed (OWS), providing logistics like streamlining warehouse and palletization efforts and shipping and receiving for materials required for distributing a vaccine. The team anticipates completing their mission three weeks ahead of schedule, already having processed 200 million syringes and more than 40 million kits for OWS.

Pennsylvania has 13 military installations supported through PMCEC. Tobyhanna is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health website. To receive the latest updates follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter and Governor Wolf on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Casey Smith, DCED,

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