Appoint a large-scale coordinator to manage all the logistics for the entire project and choose a central location capable of receiving material, logging it, and getting material out to various groups (manufacturing, community volunteers or businesses involved with assembly, disinfection processes, and final distribution to healthcare workers and/or community members) as needed. Confirm with healthcare facilities how much PPE they can receive per week or per month to ensure facilities can handle production levels.
Consider who is best positioned to assemble PPE. Would it make more sense to use community volunteers for some PPE but use nonprofit (NPOs) or non-governmental (NGOs) organizations, or business partners in your area, for other kinds of PPE community members would find difficult to assemble?
The following questions will help you think through how PPE kits should be prepared and assembled:
- How will materials in each kit be prepared prior to assembly? Will materials be cut to the proper sizes before kits are packaged, or will those involved in assembly be expected to cut materials themselves?
- How much PPE will be assembled from each kit? How long will this number take to assemble?
- What skill is needed to assemble this kind of PPE? Can community members in your area be expected to adequately assemble this PPE, or will people with professional experience / industry knowledge be needed?
- What supplies will community volunteers, NPOs/NGOs, and/or businesses be expected to provide themselves? (For example, if face masks are being assembled, will each kit include the material only, or will thread, needles, etc., be provided?)
ProjectProtect invited community volunteers to help assemble clinical face masks (in kits with precut fabric to complete 100 masks) since most had access to sewing machines and could assemble such a kit with minimal training and in their own homes. However, a nonprofit organization (Beehive Clothing) with considerable clothing manufacturing experience assembled gowns since they required considerably more sewing experience to mass produce at the level needed. Businesses in the Utah community provided professional services to assemble face shields. Be mindful of the resources in your community to leverage what will work best for the PPE needed.
Coordinate with transportation providers in your area to move supplies through each phase of the manufacturing and PPE production process.
Consider the following phases requiring transportation of materials:
- PPE materials from suppliers to the manufacturer(s) for PPE kit production (this includes shipping through customs with international suppliers).
- PPE kits from manufacturer(s) to the physical site for PPE kit distribution and collection.
- Completed PPE from distribution and collection site to healthcare disinfection facilities.
- Finished PPE from disinfection facilities for final distribution to healthcare workers and/or community caregivers.
While PPE assembly will be done in the home of each community volunteer, distributing unassembled PPE kits and collecting the completed PPE requires a physical location. Distribution and Collection logistics best practices include:
- Choose a location that can support traffic flow, health and safety, and equipment and storage.
- Appoint capable site coordinators to manage each site location.
- Consider your PPE production goals and the number of community volunteers to determine the right location(s).
- Use clean bags to hold kits rather than boxes and handle the bags as few times as possible by the fewest number of people possible. Organize collection of finished masks to allow volunteers to drive through (where cars are used) and drop off bags without any interaction with staff volunteers.
- Enlist super coordinators (highly reliable and connected community volunteers) to distribute materials to volunteers in distant or rural locations. Examples include church or community service group leaders such as Kiwanis, Rotary club, etc.
Think through the following questions as you prepare your site logistics plan:
Size and Location
- How far is this physical location from the target volunteer population?
- Will the size of this facility support the number of volunteers coming?
- Is this a familiar location volunteers can easily find?
- If cars are likely, will this site allow drivers to remain in their vehicles when picking up mask kits and dropping off completed kits? (drive-through capacity)
- Is there a designated car traffic entrance and exit (if cars are likely) for volunteers to pick up kits and drop off completed masks?
- Will this physical location support a significant increase in traffic flow without creating problems on nearby streets and neighborhoods?
- Can loading trucks transporting PPE materials easily access this location?
Health and Safety
- Does this location have sufficient space and facilities to allow staff volunteers assisting with PPE distribution and collection to follow required hygiene practices such as social distancing, hand-washing, etc.?
- Is there shelter to protect staff volunteers and PPE materials from the environment, such as a drive-through port or awning?
- Are restrooms available for staff volunteers at this site?
Equipment and Storage
- Does this facility already have equipment for PPE material distribution and collection? Consider the following equipment needs:
- Containers or sturdy racks to hold PPE materials.
- Pallet jacks, dollies, or other equipment needed to move heavy containers.
- Temporary shelter for staff volunteers and PPE materials from the environment (heat, rain, etc.).
- Portable restroom facilities (if needed).
- PPE materials for staff volunteers to wear onsite during distribution and collection hours (face masks, face shields, gloves, etc.).
- Does this site have facilities to securely store equipment and PPE supplies if needed?