Wisconsin USO provides masks for Fort McCoy DES training operations

April 14, 2020

Operations and Program Manager Ellie Hazlett with USO Wisconsin delivered 50 cloth masks to Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) personnel April 13 to support training.

The masks were for students attending augmented training for DES that is a direct result of the installation’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“The training is for borrowed military manpower to be used as an augmented standby force to cover down on potential law-enforcement staffing reduction as a result of the COVID-19 response,” said Lt. Benjamin Finn with the DES Police Department. “The USO provided masks, which were disseminated to each Soldier training with us. She said she worked all weekend … to make sure they were done in time for the class this week. We couldn’t be more proud.

“She said that it was nothing outside of her normal dedication to the service members here at McCoy, and it’s part of taking care of our own here at Fort McCoy,” Finn said.

Hazlett said the sewing team was proud to help out.

“USO Wisconsin has a team of seven sewers from across the state who have taken to the urgent need of making masks for the USO to give to military members,” Hazlett said. “I received an order from DES for 50 masks for training operations. We did not have a stockpile built up yet since the order came in just hours after we stood up the team.

“I hit up my personal stash of material and made 50 masks to cover this first order,” Hazlett said. “I called in a volunteer, Judy Adank, to help cut, assemble, and bag them … while I did all the stitching. It took us five hours to complete the items. Overall, I have provided over 250 masks to units across the state that have told us they need them.”

Hazlett said she reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pattern for cloth masks and came up with a similar but effective pattern of her own.

“I looked at the CDC pattern and decided there was a huge waste of material in those and not many people had the filter for the pocket at this time,” Hazlett said. “Rather than allow particulates to enter the opening for the filter, we eliminated that piece and sealed the sides. The new pattern allowed us to make five masks out of the same material for three with the CDC pattern.

“I drew on my years as an anesthesia technician and wearing those things to figure out a better pattern,” she said. “Most people do not keep their nose inside, which defeats the purpose of the mask in the first place, so the alternate pattern accounts for this tendency and not only covers the nose, but does not allow the wearer to uncover it. The new pattern will also allow for a disposable filter mask to be worn under it for more protection since the N95 masks are so hard to get right now.”

Hazlett said the sewing team is already busy making more masks for service members across the state.