Acela Truck Company, a manufacturer of high-mobility fire and rescue trucks, has been tasked by several federal agencies to manufacture as many as 200 mass fatality portable morgue trailers over the next several months as part of continuing efforts to respond to the growing number of fatalities as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The disaster portable morgue units (DPMUs) are mobile, self-contained refrigerated trailers and shipping containers used to expand morgue and hospital mortuary capabilities. The DPMUs are specifically designed by Acela to address the multiple challenges of the existing, makeshift refrigerated semi-trailers that the federal agencies have been using. Each unit is outfitted with low-entry floors and ramp systems; seamless interior surfaces; and customized expandable racking systems that accommodate industry-standard equipment, and shore and generator power systems. They have a life expectancy of more than 20 years.
To accommodate the demand for the DPMUs, Acela has halted its truck production lines and retooled its manufacturing capabilities for the next 60-90 days to produce and deliver units for federal agencies across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Following guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Acela has implemented an aggressive cleaning and disinfecting program within its facilities to reduce health risks and keep its employees safe. The Montana-based manufacturer has also expanded its production to seven, 10-hour days per week and is hiring as many as 20 new skilled production staff. In addition, Acela is working with more than 30 outside vendors on the project, many of whom are air freighting in parts and supplies to meet demands.
“At the request of our federal partners for expanded mortuary solutions, we re-tooled and stood up the new production line in less than three days,” said David Ronsen, president of Acela. “We feel a strong sense of duty to do what we can to help ease the extraordinary stresses on our partner agencies, the caregivers, and the families impacted by COVID-19. We also feel fortunate to have the experience, engineering, and production capabilities to rapidly manufacture these units and are very proud to help bring some relief.”