DFW clean team makes work areas safe

Thursday, October 8, 2020
DFW Team in action photo

TSA is partnering with Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to produce the most efficient clean team around. So far, they’ve decontaminated nearly 100 areas of the airport after 66 DFW TSA officers tested positive for COVID-19. From the time someone is suspected of having COVID-19, an entire airport area is closed down, decontaminated and safely reopened. In some cases, that work is completed within an hour.

The process wasn’t always so smooth or fast. Early in the pandemic, both the airport and TSA rushed to mitigate contaminated areas touched by positive employees, and at times they got in each other’s way, or worse yet, worked at cross-purposes. 

DFW team photo
From left, Executive Vice President of Operations at DFW Airport Chad Makovsky, Acting Deputy Federal Security Director Lawanda Hale, Vice President of Risk Management for DFW Catrina Gilbert, TSA Coordination Center Manager Robert Nunnery (Photo by Lisa Arguezo)

At DFW, TSA Coordination Center Manager Robert Nunnery noticed the dilemma. In an effort to make the process more efficient, he collaborated with TSA Security Operations and stakeholders to streamline the intake requests, deployment of services and disposal of hazardous waste.

“We have built the kind of relationship that when Mr. Nunnery calls, I answer with ‘Hello, Robert,’” said airport Vice President of Risk Management Catrina Gilbert, describing the close collaboration of this project.

Notification of a pending positive result crosses Nunnery’s desk from Security Operations. He gives a heads up to the airport’s Risk Management Team and notifies leadership of the specific locations and the last day and time the employee worked. Once confirmed, DFW airport Risk Management issues notices to TSA leadership, points of contact, decontamination teams and contractor escorts.

Nunnery enters information into TSA’s web-based incident management system and posts all applicable information, careful not to include personal information on TSA/DFW One Voice/Trusted Source, a TSA DFW intranet page.

DFW team member photo
A member of the DFW Airport Decontamination Team at work on the bins. (Photo courtesy of TSA DFW)

A contractor team wearing hazmat suits and backpacks loaded with sanitizer attack the area much like an Army battalion, wiping and spraying affected surfaces clean. Once the decontamination process is complete, the ticket is closed and the area is reopened.

Most recently, the teams sanitized areas during the day instead of waiting for late night hours, allowing contaminated areas to be put back in service faster.

In recognition of the collaboration, TSA recognized the DFW Risk Management Team with the Tactical Partnership Award for their outstanding working relationship with the agency and their efforts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. It also aligns with the Administrator’s Intent 2.0 by “demonstrating the care for our people,” said Acting Deputy Federal Security Director Lawanda Hale.