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AF program provides needed supplies in fight against Ebola

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Urgently needed supplies are quickly getting to those fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, thanks to experts with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Air Force Contract Augmentation Program.

AFCAP is a rapid response contracting tool managed by AFCEC's Readiness Directorate. In fiscal year 2014, AFCAP awarded $96 million in contingency support, disaster recovery and State Department requirements. Recently, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), a division of the State Department, contacted AFCAP to provide vital protective equipment for medical workers in areas hit hardest by the epidemic like Liberia, the Republic of Sierra Leone and Ghana.

"It was a commodity task order for things like safety goggles, outer gloves, examination gloves, rubber boots and head covers," said Wayland Patterson, the AFCAP chief. "OFDA contacted us to fill this urgent and compelling need; we awarded the contract the next day and had those materials in the customer's hands in just three days."

The approximately $259,000 contract included more than 183,000 medical examination gloves and over 140,000 Tyvek protective coveralls and hoods as well as tens of thousands of boots, goggles, mortuary aprons and 530,000 biohazard disposal bags.

Since the first Ebola response task order, AFCAP has worked two additional contracts, including a requirement from the World Health Organization, the public health arm of the United Nations, which underscored the human tragedy of the epidemic.

"We were asked to provide white body bags," Patterson said. "The Ebola victims were being buried in standard black body bags, but the locals considered this defilement of the dead and were digging up deceased family members to wrap the bodies in light-colored shrouds. In the process, family members were being infected. We provided more than 4,000 white body bags to stop that."

AFCAP also provided 11,000 meters of safety fencing to help safeguard medical aid workers from potential riots.

The third task order included 30- by 90-foot-long temporary medical treatment facilities, as well as infrared thermometers to enable medical personnel to instantly read body temperature at a distance without having to touch patients.

There is potential for additional task orders, Patterson said, adding he is pleased with how the AFCAP team has responded to support this international effort.

"This is an example of a contract vehicle that is responsive to National Command Authority objectives and is able to turn something quickly to meet critical timelines," Patterson said. "It feels good to know we could step up and make a difference on events on the world stage."