Members of the Florida National Guard run practice testing lanes in preparation for the response to the COVID-19 virus.
      Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons The National Guard - U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Leia Tascarini

The IBEW-partnered National Lighting Bureau is offering free LED lights to remote COVID-19 testing sites being set up nationwide to help combat the global pandemic.

“Everybody was on board with the idea,” said the IBEW’s Business Development Director Ray Kasmark, who also serves as the NLB Chairman. “Nobody knows how long this crisis is going to go on, and offering these lights is a great, out-of-the-box way to help.”

NLB Executive Director Randy Reid says there are about 1,000 lights that have been dedicated so far and they’re working on getting the word out to various federal, state and local authorities to make them aware of the offer. Shipping costs will also be waived.

“I felt so ineffective that this virus was taking over and it didn’t seem like we could help. Then I began to hear about tents for testing and remembered my time in the U.S. Army Reserve,” said Reid, who served in medical units and set up combat support hospitals.

“In the early ’90s, we began to add lights to those tents and the quality and quantity of the work improved dramatically. I thought about the importance of those tents and figured that since the testing would be done during the day, no one would think about adding light, but my military experience says that even in the day, they will see a huge increase in productivity and safety if they have good quality lighting,” Reid said.

At the testing sites, practitioners are required to take deep swabs in the nasal passage and throat, often while the patient is sitting in a car. 

“It is a very awkward process for both people involved,” Reid said. “Having more light in the right place should make it easier for the practitioner to get an accurate result.”

The lights, which range in price from about $250 to $460, are being supplied by the NLB’s partners, which include manufacturers. Reid says LEDs are a good choice because of their energy efficiency and light weight compared to other fixtures.

The Bureau is a nonprofit foundation that offers educational information free of charge courtesy of the organization’s sponsors, which include the IBEW, the National Electrical Contractors Association, individuals, professional societies, trade associations, manufacturers and agencies of the U.S. government. Reid says this is the first time the organization has offered a service like free lights, and that they’re open to other suggestions on how they can help.

“These tents need power, and that’s something we can help provide,” Kasmark said. “There’s really no downside.”

To request an LED light, officials can visit NLB.org/request or contact info@nlb.org with locations and tent dimensions including length, width and height of the tent.