MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia --
A little acquisition experience can go a long way.
In the White House’s call for ideas to provide personal protective equipment to those caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, that acquisition experience is coming from Scott Paris, a Marine Corps Systems Command employee.
“We’re helping the Office of Science and Technology and a lot of other agencies with what they’re trying to do,” said Paris, the joint program manager for protection at the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. “The office wants to get the best ideas, build prototypes, do testing and get something out there in a month, so we’re helping however we can.”
The current personal protective equipment for health care workers is too hot to wear for long spells in West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak has taken hold. That heat exhausts caregivers quickly. They work for about 40 minutes then have to follow a strict protocol for taking their PPE off, which takes 15 minutes. After their break, it takes 15 more minutes for the caregivers to put their gear back on.
“We’re seeing caregivers working to the point of exhaustion before they take the PPE off,” Paris said. “It’s very dangerous because even a drop of contaminated bodily fluid is full of the virus. Any contact with an open cut or mucous membrane, [and the individual] is at risk for contracting the virus.”
Using electrical solutions like air conditioning or personal coolers pose its own problem in poorer countries. Paris said the infrastructures are not dependable enough to support running generators continually or constantly supplying batteries.
“The parameters are tough,” he said. “We have to have impermeable materials in a hot and humid environment with little infrastructure.”
As he works these along with myriad other issues, Paris – a civilian Marine who works at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Virginia, draws on every building block of experience from an extensive resume. He retired from the Marine Corps as a nuclear, biological and chemical defense/nuclear weapons officer. He is a certified program manager in Department of Defense acquisition. He’s worked on multiple programs including chem/bio, radiological, and nuclear defense and protection, force protection, and emergency management. Right now, Paris is helping establish standards and requirements for submissions to the PPE challenge. He is also leveraging his connections and sources as the JPM for Protection—for research, data, rapid prototype development and testing, among other things.
He hopes to help the Office of Science and Technology find the right piece of gear for personal protection as soon as possible. According to their timeframe, he is looking at weeks instead of months.
“When you look across the spectrum of what they’re trying to address, it’s a huge effort,” Paris said. “This is a big wagon to pull, but we have a lot of people from different agencies who have good ideas and want to help however they can.”