UF Grad leads Navy COVID-19 mask project

Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 2:07 AM EDT
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University of Florida graduate Capt. Kimberly Toone is now on the frontlines of the Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic and she's doing her part in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

"My husband is also a graduate of the University of Florida and he was looking on social media and saw the story about the College of Medicine Anesthesia Department making the masks. He shared that story with me. Then on April 10, the Navy made face-covering a requirement, so I shared that with our aircraft maintenance officer at Naval air forces and we thought maybe we could make these on the aircraft carrier," Capt. Toone said.

Inspired from hundreds of miles away at her base in Norfolk, Virginia, she reached out to one of the ship's senior medical officer and aircraft maintenance officer to see if they had proper medical fabric and the personnel able to sew the masks. When they said they did, her vision came to life.

"All the way up the chain of command it was a very positive response. This idea shows the adaptability of our Naval force. The sailors were very excited about being able to take part in the response to COVID-19,” Capt. Toone said.

The idea grew quickly and now sailors on 7 different ships are being led by aircrew survival equipment-men to make the masks. They work in an assembly line cutting, sewing, and putting the pieces together. They use medical grade fabric that’s typically used to wrap surgical kits in the carrier’s operating room.

While she doesn't make the masks herself, its important to Capt. Toone to be spearheading this project.

"As a physician, it’s difficult not to do direct patient care but … in assisting the sailors in production of these masks it makes it so that I can help our sailors stay safe while they conduct their duties," Capt. Toone said.