VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – In normal times, Volusia County’s Ocean Center plays host to dozens of trade shows, conferences, concerts, competitions, and sporting events.
But these aren’t normal times.
The Ocean Center is now a central distribution hub for a critical supply chain responsible for getting lifesaving equipment to local workers on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.
Approximately 94,000 square feet of exhibit space at the convention center has been converted into a temporary staging area for critically-needed personal protective gear such as masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields.
Volusia County Emergency Management procured the materials through the Florida Division of Emergency Management to fulfill requests from local agencies. Pallets of supplies are being shipped to the center and then sorted and inventoried by county staff in public protection, corrections, and emergency management and readied for distribution to first responders, area hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
According to center officials, the goal is to fill up the temporary warehouse space as much and as fast as possible and then get the equipment to where it is needed just as swiftly.
“Our processes are working very quickly. We get it in as quickly as we can, and we get it out as quickly as we can,” said Mark Swanson, Volusia County’s deputy director of public protection. “We know that the agencies out there need these supplies. So we’re working very diligently to get those out.”
Establishing a large hub for staging equipment is the most efficient way to coordinate the massive effort to get supplies to where they are needed most, according to Volusia County emergency management director Jim Judge.
“Having one central and secure point for deliveries and distribution for the entire county saves on time and potential for duplication of efforts,” said Judge. “The Ocean Center is the perfect location for all logistical activities.”