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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Logistically Supporting the COVID Response Daily, One Responder’s Reflections on COVID-19 over the Course of the Pandemic

Author: Peter Cassell, ASPR Comms
Published Date: 3/16/2021 5:59:00 PM
Category: National Disaster Medical System; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;


“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin



Robert Daley, logistics section chief of the Incident Management Team-East, is no stranger to managing the complex logistics of an emergency response with the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). He has a long career of being a paramedic and a firefighter before joining NDMS in 1996, and has responded to many major emergencies over the past few decades including the major earthquakes in Iran and Haiti; the response to 9/11; and Hurricanes Katrina, Irma and Maria. Just like many of us, Bob has been contending with the pandemic since the very beginning and over a year later he continues to support the logistics of the federal government’s response. Bob has helped with every aspect of this pandemic from the early days of PPE shortages and flattening the curve to the different requirements for medical care during a pandemic as well as antibody infusions and vaccine administration.


Robert Daley


Immediately after supporting the January 2020 State of the Union, Bob was called upon to help support the logistical aspects of repatriating hundreds of Americans and their families from Wuhan, China. He is one of our everyday heroes that helps make disaster response at HHS happen. He and more than 2,800 responders from across the country have deployed, often multiple times, to support the whole of government pandemic response. While many who have been impacted by disaster know about our NDMS medical professionals, none of the work they do would be possible without the many people behind the scenes, like Bob, who are making sure that assets, resources, and people get where they need to be, stay safe, and are available to provide the best of care in the worst of times.


Passenger planes on the airport tarmac


Following the repatriation mission, Bob helped coordinate surge support at the Kirkland Nursing Facility in Washington State and then continued from there to the Javits Center in New York City. Since then, Bob has deployed to 12 states supporting different NDMS missions, including hospital surge support, monoclonal antibody infusion support, and vaccine administration.


NDMS Teams


The logistics team that Bob helps lead has one mission during disasters and public health emergencies and that is to support the deployed medical teams. Without logistics, our doctors and nurses would have no PPE, no medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, no computers, phones or power. They wouldn’t even have a place to sleep at night. Logistics is the backbone of our deployments, working around the clock often days before our medical personnel arrive and days or even weeks after our medical personnel return back home.


Image of HHS DMAT uniform and a t-shirt with Logistics printed on the back


Often times, a hospital will be damaged by a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster, and logistics will be called upon to set up a temporary facility. Once these facilities are established, logistic personnel make sure they are fully equipped to care for COVID-19 patients. This includes securing beds, linens, food and water, and medical supplies and medical equipment – including personal protective equipment (PPE) testing supplies, ventilators, oxygen and pharmaceuticals. If using temporary tents to care for patients, logistics personnel must acquire everything from light towers and hand washing stations to generators and fuel. Once the site is no longer operational, logistics personnel are responsible to make sure all equipment and supplies are accounted for and returned or moved to support the next site.


Bob Daley and unidentified male at the Tuscon Medical Center


Most recently, Bob deployed to the Tucson Medical Center to lead the logistics of the federally supported monoclonal antibody treatment center. This was the second of what would become four federally supported infusion sites. He dove right into the challenge, securing space for patients, resources for the infusions, and even going above and beyond to deliver more COVID-19 tests to the hospital’s clinic so that more patients could be tested and referred for antibody infusions. The four federally supported infusion centers directly prevented over 1000+ COVID positive patients from needing to be treated for severe illness, including Ms. Joyce Sonday who was the 500th patient to receive the treatment in Tucson. Bob presented Joyce with a logistics challenge coin, a small token of his appreciation to mark that she was the 500th patient to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment. In fact, thanks in part to his leadership, ASPR was able to replicate this success and build a digital toolkit for communities across the country to set up these infusion sites.


Bob Daley meeting with a male government personnel


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges to every American and the logistics team Bob assists in leading helped ASPR meet those challenges at every step of the way. He’s been on the front lines since the pandemic was declared to help accomplish an unprecedented mission through sweat and a determination to succeed and a must not fail attitude during this unprecedented national public health crisis. He is extremely proud of being able to contribute to the whole-of government response and continues to have total respect for his colleagues and the stamina that they bring to help the American people. For more information about NDMS, visit www.phe.gov/ndms.


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