John Kiefer (L) and Randal Brunello (R) inspect work on a bridge structure near I-84 in D4 with proper spacing and masks.
ITD partners with local companies to provide
Personal Protective Equipment to employees
When reflecting upon the last several weeks, many thoughts run through a person’s mind. In all actuality, it’s somewhat extraordinary how quickly our daily lives can be turned upside down. It’s even more astounding how well we can roll with the punches and adjust. Many things during these times are extraordinary for other, more positive reasons as well. A prime example of this light in the darkness is the way that some companies have stepped up to help businesses and communities in need.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended face coverings to help curb the spread of COVID-19, ITD started looking into ways they could provide these items to employees. With much of the workforce remaining in the field doing essential work at the ports and on the roadways, it was important to provide these coverings as soon as possible. However, with national demand at an all-time high and supply understandably at a low, obtaining this type of personal protective equipment would likely prove to be challenging for the department.
During a meeting on the subject, it was mentioned that a Boise company, Bucks Bags, was providing coverings for local organizations. A customized sports apparel and bag company, Bucks Bags understood the need that was facing the nation. They had the ability to produce face coverings in their factory and didn’t hesitate to answer the call when ITD reached out.
“We needed a large quantity and face coverings, and we needed them quickly,” said ITD Senior Buyer Denise Cooley. “Bucks Bags was able and willing to provide what we needed, so it was simply a matter of completing the paperwork at that point.”
Because a State of Emergency had been declared, ITD requested an exemption to spend above the biddable monetary limit in order to secure 3,600 face coverings. The goal for the department is for each employee to have two face coverings, which they can alternate between laundering.
Bucks Bags wasn’t the only Idaho company converting their product line to help in this time of need though. Distillery Resources Inc. (DRINC) of Rigby, Idaho was adjusting their daily routine as well.
“In addition to face coverings, we wanted to procure large quantities of hand sanitizer for our employees,” said Cooley. “I had been told that hospitals were buying raw materials and making their own sanitizer and it just so happened that DRINC, a known vodka distillery, was producing these raw materials in a factory right down the road from where I live.”
Cooley emailed DRINC and asked if they would be able to provide hand sanitizer for the department.
“When I got in touch with them, I found they were in the midst of converting their production line over to produce sanitizer. They had just purchased a machine capable of bottling 1.7 ounces which is the perfect size for personal use.”
ITD placed an order for 160 cases (approximately 10,800 bottles) of liquid hand sanitizer. The sanitizer would be distributed among ITD employees and also shared with the Department of Administration who had been experiencing difficulty finding a supply for their mailroom staff.
Cooley explained that while “this hand sanitizer is liquid based and a bit different than the typical gel sanitizer individuals are used to seeing, it’s still every bit effective.”
The initial shipments of face coverings and hand sanitizer were delivered to districts across the state via ITD’s King Air. Subsequent deliveries occurred days later via ground relays from one district to the next.
While it may take time to get used to using these items, participation on everyone’s part will go a long way in helping keep our colleagues, families, friends and communities healthy.
Dan Pierson unloads hand sanitizer in Shoshone on April 6 during the D5/D4 handoff.