Following the COVID-19 outbreak, health care providers and first responders were faced with an unprecedented need for personal protective equipment (PPE). With a global shortage, the COVID-19 National Preservation Strategy sought to improve the availability of PPE that would preserve the health of first responders, health care providers and patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized, through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) to provide needed decontamination of up to 80,000 total N95 respirator masks per day.
As a result of major disaster declarations declared by President Trump, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC became eligible to request Battelle units that would serve medical providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care centers as well as law enforcement agencies and first responders. FEMA worked closely with partners from Battelle, HHS and State Emergency Management officials to identify locations, move the equipment into place and begin testing.
“The strong collaboration among the mid-Atlantic region has greatly helped to increase resources and support to ensure the first responders, health workers, and essential personal can safely respond to COVID-19,” said MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region 3 Regional Administrator. “Working together to maximize the use of the Battelle unit across state lines is one of the many ways the region has collaborated during the COVID-19 response.”
The first two units, placed in Baltimore, MD and Washington DC, went operational this week. These two Battelle units have the capacity to serve 22 hospitals within the DC, MD and VA area. Each Battelle unit will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Along with our partners from the Maryland Department of Health, I would like to thank Battelle and FEMA for helping Maryland obtain one of the first mask cleaning machines to be deployed in the nation,” said Russ Strickland, Executive Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. The ability to have these masks cleaned and returned to service within 72 hours is vital for the safety of our health care workers, first responders and others on the front lines of this fight.”
FEMA Region 3 is working to bring additional units into Mid-Atlantic to serve six states and the District of Columbia. Battelle units have also arrived in Blacksburg, VA, and Glens Mill, PA, which will be the next ones to go operational. A total of 60 units will placed in other states nationwide to sustain the effort to protect the front-line workers battling the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information on the whole of government response to COVID-19, please visit www.FEMA.gov/coronavirus/.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.