DOVER AIR FORCE, Del. --
In the last two months, COVID-19 has drastically changed certain aspects of Dover AFB’s mobility mission. In an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure maximum safety while performing their duties, the Airmen of the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron have made special modifications to some of their vehicles.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've sought ways to safeguard our folks as they do their mission-essential jobs” said Capt. Dustin Bohall, 436th LRS director of operations. “These vehicle modifications are just another level of protection, and we hope, by having them in place, we can further mitigate transmission of the virus."
Staff Sgt. Cory Nelson, 436th LRS Ground Transportation Support noncommissioned officer in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Gregory Kollasch, 436th LRS Ground Transportation Support supervisor, drew inspiration from other bases to modify their vehicles. They initially used plastic sheeting to create a partition between the driver’s seat and the passenger seating area; although it was easy to install, the thin plastic wasn’t durable enough, so they decided to pursue a long-term solution and order sheets of plexiglass.
By order of the base commander, units across Dover AFB have minimal staffing in workspaces to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. When the supplies for the modifications arrived at Dover AFB, both Nelson and Kollasch had just finished working two weeks straight without a day off and were about to enjoy a well-deserved break - But when they found out the supplies had arrived, they came back to work to complete the modifications as soon as possible.
“We still transport aircrews to and from the flight line on a daily basis”, said Nelson. “So we knew we needed to get the modifications installed immediately.”
The buses were not all the same model vehicle, so the two NCOs had to meticulously plan, measure and cut the thick sheets of plexiglass. There was no room for error.
The transport buses are actually owned by GSA Fleet, a government agency that leases and sells vehicles to federal agencies and military bases. This meant that any modifications made to the buses could not permanently alter the vehicles. They could not drill any holes into the bus or damage it in any way.
“The biggest challenge was finding a way to install the plexiglass without permanently modifying the bus in any way,” said Nelson. “Everything that we installed can be removed, and the buses will once again be just the way they came from the factory.”
Each bus was equipped with a stepladder, so that aircrews and passengers could easily board and exit through the emergency entrance at the rear of the bus. The modifications for a single bus took five hours to complete. A total of three buses were modified, and there is a possibility that the rest of Dover’s fleet of eight buses will soon follow.
"Just like the men and women across the country keeping America moving, our ground transportation professionals are keeping Dover moving,” said Bohall. “They have tremendous pride in their work and will do everything they can to continue supporting the AMC mission of providing Rapid Global Mobility."