JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
Back on March 17, Joint Base San Antonio logistics personnel installed plexiglass shields in the area surrounding the driver’s seat of vans transporting service members and eligible Department of Defense ID cardholders around JBSA bases. In addition, as of April 1, all 22-passenger surrey buses also had plexiglass installed to shield the drivers. The plexiglass replaces plastic shields, forming a more protective barrier against the spread of COVID-19.
Ronnie Davis, JBSA-Lackland ground transportation site chief, 502nd Logistic Readiness Squadron, came up with the idea for plexiglass to replace plastic in early March. The concept came about as a result of a group discussion about the most effective way to safeguard public health.
“From a disinfecting standpoint, it's a lot easier to disinfect something that's a solid surface, instead of plastic,” said Tech. Sgt. Cody Fleeger, 502nd LRS noncommissioned officer In charge. “It's also a lot more transparent so that passengers can be seen while the drivers are operating the bus, while still having that physical barrier between the driver and the passengers while they're loading.”
The plexiglass is held shut by magnets, which increases the protection. In addition, plexiglass is a fairly flexible and sturdy material; it wouldn’t shatter like regular glass does, nor would it become dangerous shards that could injure the drivers or passengers.
To streamline the process, LRS took measurements of the area around the driver’s seat first. Then they made cardboard mock-ups to know how much plexiglass would be needed.
“They used the cardboard mock-up as a stencil to cut the plexiglass,” Fleeger said. “That way, we would cut down on waste and we would know it would work the first time because we already had a cardboard version.”
The plexiglass was put into the vehicles which have been labeled green, yellow, and red for healthy people, symptomatic people or people who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and people who have themselves tested positive for COVID-19, respectively.
In addition, seats were removed from the 15-passenger vans to comply with social distancing guidelines. The drivers are also required to wear goggles, face masks, and gloves when operating vehicles.
The idea for using plexiglass was not a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandate. It was a creative way to make transportation even safer than was required.
“A lot of these things were extra precautions,” Fleeger said. “We were just trying to create extra physical barriers.”
“It has worked out great and has proven to be effective,” Davis said. “We have shared it with other bases and they have implemented something of its likeness. Hopefully, everyone will stay safe and virus-free.”