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178th Wing Key Spouse volunteers aid mask refurbishment

Members from the 178th Medical Group Key Spouse Group volunteered in May and have since been aiding in the mask refurbishment efforts for the Dayton area. The Key Spouse Group volunteers cut and package 210 pieces of elastic into individual bags for other volunteer groups to use to reinforce the elasticity of aged masks. To date, the members have provided over 300 hundred bags of elastic to the effort. (Courtesy photo)

Members from the 178th Medical Group Key Spouse Group volunteered in May and have since been aiding in the mask refurbishment efforts for the Dayton area. The Key Spouse Group volunteers cut and package 210 pieces of elastic into individual bags for other volunteer groups to use to reinforce the elasticity of aged masks. To date, the members have provided over 300 hundred bags of elastic to the effort. (Courtesy photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Over the past three and a half months, COVID-19 has caused a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment. In the Dayton region, the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and the regional public health agencies, worked together to assess their stockpile equipment as the need for PPE began to rise. The conclusion was that equipment was on track to run out in a few months and boxes of masks were aged and deemed unusable due to the masks losing their elasticity.

The Montgomery County Public Health Department developed a plan to source elastic and rework more than 100,000 masks for medical facilities, nursing homes, healthcare workers, dental offices, veterinarian services and first responders throughout the Miami Valley. With such a large task at hand, the department knew they needed help to implement this resolution.

“This is truly an all-hands-on-deck effort that Tracy and the Montgomery County Public Health Department has spearheaded to get needed PPE into our regional hospitals,” said Lt. Col. Brad Kennedy, the deputy commander of the 178th Medical Group.

In May, the call for help came. The members of the 178th Medical Key Spouse Group volunteered to assist in any way that was needed and were eager to help.

“The fact that spouse groups come together to support the community is another testament to what service members do across the nation,” said Tracey Clare, a training and planning specialist for the Public Health Departments of Dayton and Montgomery County. “I'm grateful for their involvement in helping serve the community.”

The Public Health Department provided the volunteers with over 200 yard spools of elastic and jigs, a 12 inch piece of wood with screws 10 inches apart, to make the cutting of elastic easier. They also provided the volunteers with video instructions and packaging supplies. The members were then instructed to wrap the spool of elastic around these screws and to cut each piece into a 20-inch strand of elastic. The Key Spouse Group volunteers then packaged 210 cut pieces of elastic into each bag for other volunteer groups to use to reinforce the elasticity of aged masks. To date, the members have provided more than 300 hundred bags of elastic to the effort. With new elastic sewn in, the masks can be used by workers who need them the most.

“To be a part of this effort, even though it's a small part, it's a big contribution and impact for overcoming COVID-19,” said Susie Gray, a 178th MDG Key Spouse member.

The members of the 178th Medical Key Spouse Group were thrilled to be a part of this effort and ensure that their community was taken care of in a time of need. The group is made up of individuals who have a variety of skill sets and share a mutual willingness and desire to make a contribution to and impact on their community

“When we found out there was a need in the community to help our frontline workers, everybody wanted to know what they could do to help,” said Gina Kicos, a 178th Medical Group Key Spouse member. “We all have a sense of caring for our community and caring when there is a need in the community.”

With mask refurbishment being an ongoing effort, the 178th MDG Key Spouse Group continues to aid the local community through their work. The work they are performing not only builds a connection with the local community, but Gray believes it also establishes the group as a future partner and resource for local agencies to rely on.

The group’s efforts have directly made a huge and lasting impact on the health and safety of healthcare workers in the Miami Valley. Their willingness and desire to serve highlights the core values expressed by not only our military members, but their families as well. The group is a prime example of service before self.

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