Air Force health care providers responsible for life-saving operations will soon have access to customizable medical kits provided by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Medical team as the agency awarded a $5.4 million contract for 27 kits March 7.
The “made-to-order” medical kits includes items such as bandages, gauze, pharmaceuticals, and tracheal tubes as well as a variety of support equipment and cases to house it all. The MTO kits will provide warfighters across the globe support of their unique needs and situations.
Made-to-stock kits, MTO’s predecessor, provided defined sets of material linked to a national stock number as an “all or nothing” packaged option to the warfighter.
“What’s different about [MTO] is that if a customer wants to customize a kit based on their need, based on their mission, they can do that,” Medical Integrated Supply Team Chief Abin Mathai said. “It’s an innovative collaboration between DLA, AbilityOne, NIB … and our prime contractor for the MTO kitting program.”
Although the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency normally builds custom medical kits at a facility in San Antonio, Texas, to meet those needs, they occasionally exceed their internal production capacity and turned to the DLA Troop Support Medical team as an alternate source for medical kit production.
“[AFMRA is] using this as a proof of concept to establish an alternate means to do assembly builds that we can turn to when we have a surge requirement or we exceeded our capacity at San Antonio,“ AFMRA Logistics Management Specialist Mitchell Reading said.
“The impetus for building these specific kits was a planned assembly kit modernization that the USAF will do periodically to update the item configuration to incorporate new medical technology, align to current clinical practice guidelines and standards of care and to revise the configuration to support new and emerging threat environments and operational maneuvering concepts,” Reading said.
Regardless of the size, if the list of items is “mostly” medical in nature MTO can build the kit, Mathai said.
The program has grown nearly sixfold in almost as many years since being revamped in September 2016, peaking at $30 million in annual sales in 2018 while fulfilling a “significant need” for custom medical solutions Medical Integrated Supply Team Chief Abin Mathai said.
The team has worked with customers ranging from special operations forces with smaller yet unique individual needs to those like the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery with requirements for more than 1,000 items with specific dimensions, weight restrictions and other criteria for use on ships and submarines.
“We take the list of requirements and specifics from the customer, coordinate with AbilityOne and the contractor to get costs, communicate the estimated costs with the customer, including items and kitting, and go from there to get them what they need,” Mathai said.
As the military continues to reform and build partnerships in line with National Defense Strategy, MTO remains a viable partner offering tailored medical solutions with value-added options like electronic shelf-life monitoring and notification to customers when items in kits are reaching their expiration.
That partnership is something Reading appreciated in the AFMRA kit ordering process.
“The [DLA Troop Support Medical MTO] kitting division has been very receptive to my questions, and they’re very aware of what some of our unique issues are and have worked with us on this,” he said. “We’re hoping that this will be a success so we’ll have an avenue in the future … when we don’t have the [internal] capacity as our first alternative to turn to.”