Uncommon efforts toward a common goal

Thursday, May 14, 2020
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Never take a breath for granted.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ventilators were in short supply across the U.S. and other countries. With efforts to flatten the curve, including social distancing, increased ventilator production became an important step to help save lives.

A team of engineers, programmers and doctors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joined together to resuscitate a design created by MIT students 10 years ago as part of a class assignment. Dubbed the MIT E-Vent, this emergency ventilator is far less expensive than standard ventilators and is easily produced. The MIT E-Vent team refined the design and made models available for manufacturing.

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The Chilean government, like many other nations, faced a shortage of ventilators with the onslaught of COVID-19. Chilean officials looked to the MIT E-Vent as one part of a possible solution, but needed to quickly obtain the machine to start production. Enter TSA Representative (TSAR) Anthony Giovanniello.

The Chilean ambassador asked Giovanniello to assist with expediting the shipping of two MIT E-Vents from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York to Santiago, Chile. Giovanniello took swift action, leveraging his network of contacts to arrange immediate shipment of the ventilators.

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Giovanniello worked with International Industry Representative (IIR) Debra Henninger to facilitate transportation of the ventilators with Chilean aircraft operator LAN Chile. Henninger’s contact with the senior corporate security manager at LAN Chile provided her quick access to the local security manager for the airline at JFK, and she explained the effort to get this critical equipment to Chile as soon as possible.

Less than a week after Giovanniello received the request, the ventilators were on the ground in Santiago. The Chilean government decided to move forward with production, hoping it would lead to more successful treatment of COVID-19 patients in Chile.

Shaving critical days off of the shipment of the ventilators means that Chilean hospitals will have more MIT E-Vents faster. TSA’s role in securing the transportation system allows for this

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type of coordination and collaboration, and in special circumstances such as these, TSA is able to take a more direct role to assure a seamless operation.