As part of the Defense Production Act invoked by President Trump after declaring a national emergency, General Motors production plants switched to manufacturing ventilators. Ford Motor Company also paused car production and pivoted to manufacturing desperately needed ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Richard Dessin, Occupational Safety and Health Specialist for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), first heard about Ford’s shift of focus on a national broadcast. When the story received local media attention in Detroit, one of Ford’s manufacturing bases, Dessin’s curiosity caused him to research the effort.
He learned Ford offered to supply free face shields at no cost in order to meet national emergency needs. Recognizing the usefulness of face shields, an optional layer of defense for front line officers against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dessin sent the information up his chain of command.
“We are always looking for ways to keep our employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DTW FSD Steve Lorincz. “We worked with our legal team to ensure TSA ethics standards/practices were followed and our request met agency guidelines.”
Three days after Dessin completed the electronic request, Ford shipped the face shields directly to the Detroit Field Office.
“It’s critical that TSA have access to this kind of personal protective equipment, especially as stay-at-home orders lift and more Americans start relying on their transportation systems again,” said Marcy Fisher, Director of Global Body Exterior & Interior Engineering at Ford Motor Company.
“A few days later, Ford contacted me to see if I knew of any other airports that wanted them as they had a surplus,” said Dessin. “I passed on the donation contact information during the Occupational Safety and Health meeting.”
Leadership on the west coast also recognized the usefulness of the face shields. “As one of two OSH Specialist for the LAX Hub and Spokes airports, I had been searching for the ultimate tool for our officers to use in the fight against this Covid-19 pandemic,” noted Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Leslie Husted. Networking with Dessin after the conference call, Husted received contact information and proceeded to do his own due diligence with his supervisor and legal counsel.
Once green-lighted, the request was filled and delivered to LAX and their spoke airports. “Once they were delivered, we had our logistics department receive the shipment and carefully log it and create and electronic sign out sheet to keep exact track of every face shield used,” said Husted. “What this has done is add to our tools as an option to keep the spread of the Covid-19 from our Officers.”
The remainder of the 48,000 face shields were requested and distributed to a variety of large, medium and small airports around the country, as well as to the Federal Air Marshals.
“Ford has a history of stepping up in a time of crisis and this time is no different,” said Fisher. “We believe the freedom to move drives human progress, which is why we’re proud to donate 48,000 face shields to the men and women tasked with keeping travelers safe.”
The PPE donation was met with applause from TSA leadership. “Ford Motor Company has been an amazing partner,” concluded Lorincz.
By Karen Robicheaux, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs