Innovative self-serve temperature check helps workforce during COVID
By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs
/ Published January 21, 2021
PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Social distancing. Six feet of separation. Tapping elbows instead of shaking hands.
These are terms and actions society has grown accustomed to hearing and seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another familiar occurrence since the outbreak of the virus is temperature checks at various entry points to businesses and workplaces.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center is no different – facial coverings, safe distances, and Plexiglas partitions are in place throughout the center’s Florida headquarters that employs nearly 1,000 military and civilian personnel. And now, through the innovative creativity of one Airman, it also has a touch-free thermometer for members to check their temperature before entering the facility.
Tech. Sgt. David Sanchez, a mission manager in the AFTAC Operations Center, set out to develop a better way to conduct temperature checks at the nuclear treaty monitoring center. He took some random items he had in his shed that were “collecting dust” and put them to good use.
“It seemed rather wasteful to me to use a disposable glove every time the hand-held thermometer was used, and there was also the chance for cross-contamination each time someone reached into the box to dispense a new glove,” Sanchez said. “I knew there was room for improvement to the process.”
So Sanchez built a prototype contraption consisting of PVC pipes, fishing line, a small mirror, and a plastic foot pedal and attached a temporal thermometer to the top of the tripod. His first version was what he considered a “proof of concept” to see if it would function as planned. The second device was much like the first, only a bit taller. On his third try, he achieved his goal, gave his invention a fresh coat of paint, and delivered it to the main lobby of the treaty monitoring center for his co-workers to employ.
“My main reason for taking this on was the challenge it presented,” Sanchez said. “I love using my hands and creating things from scratch, and I also love solving mechanical problems and puzzles. This was a project I wanted to undertake because not only did I know it would be fun, but it would also benefit a lot of other people during a pretty harsh time.”
For his efforts, the AFTAC commander, Col. Katharine Barber, presented Sanchez with her commander’s coin.
“This is the type of innovation I have grown so accustomed to seeing on a daily basis from the talent that exists here at AFTAC,” Barber said. “Sergeant Sanchez took the time and energy to create something that pays dividends for our workforce and provides a safe and healthy way for people to check their temperature upon entry to our headquarters. It’s a win-win for everyone!”