In light of the current state of the world, many jiu-jitsu practitioners are looking for new outlets for their free time. This ranges from rolling with chairs and pet cats to watching online instructional content. One black belt gym owner, however, has taken on a far more noble task.
Dan Lukehart, a black belt under Beneil Dariush and the owner of Brea Jiu-Jitsu, is a former commentator for the IBJJF and has undertaken the task of finding personal protective equipment (PPE) and outfitting local healthcare workers who are victims of a serious shortage of PPE.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times talked to Lukehart about his efforts to learn more about how he got started:
“I have a hobbyist interest in public health and read many of the books Bill Gates recommends on his Gates Notes letter. Naturally, as chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a lot of those recommendations are on the history of various pathogens and other related ‘Big History’ topics.
At first I had no idea how to help. I have plenty of ideas for solutions to problems big and small, but posting them on my social media account would just be a waste of time. I disagree with a lot of what our country’s response to COVID-19 has been, but that is not helpful or productive at all. It’s not like anybody making decisions at any level is going to read my social media post.
One evening, a BJJer I didn’t know started asking me about respirators. I often post science-related topics on Facebook, so he guessed I might have some knowledge. I shared what I knew and over the course of the conversation the intention behind his questions came out.
His wife was an ICU nurse and she was using the same N95 (95% particulate matter to .3 microns) mask for a week. Their intention is single-use. I knew some reuse of N95 was going on, but was thinking it was every 3rd patient or something similar. I was wrong. He was panicked and unsuccessfully trying to get some personal protective gear for his wife off eBay. He bought activated carbon filters, which will remove VOC’s, but only a fraction of the particulate matter a N95 or P100 would.
I had a spare full face mask with lightly used P100 (99.9% of particulate matter plus increased robustness for oil environments) from when I remodeled my attic. I knew it might come in handy as it is far superior to reusing a N95 and a pair of glasses, but never thought a medical professional would want it. There are lots of rules relating to the certification of medical-grade equipment and figured it would not be used or perceived as overkill. I was wrong. She was desperate. I drove it over at 1AM. Within about 10 minutes of her getting it, she intubated a patient using it.
Her husband messaged the next morning tells me all the other doctors and nurses were amazed that she got her hands on one. So why stop there? I continued looking for more for her coworkers.”
Lukehart’s efforts are highly unusual, and he revealed his process of finding and distributing the equipment.
“I’m not sure what I am doing scales well; however, this is my general process:
1. Identify individual nurses who are in immediate need through social media. Usually this is BJJers and their network. Individual nurses know the situation the best and are honest about the on the ground situation.
2. Locate PPE based on the specific immediate need. Attempting to locate specific items as they are needed is easier. I try to buy stuff that would have not likely made it into the healthcare system within the next week or more.
3. Hand-deliver to the nurse as a personal donation as soon as I receive it.
4. Use that personal donation as an in to make other personal donations to their coworkers.
5. Try and establish a relationship through those personal donations to build trust with administrators in their department.
If they can share with me figures like how much they have, their consumption rate per day, when next shipments are arriving and willingness to innovate, I can plug the holes better and get them the supplies they need. While looking for supplies, it’s mainly brute force effort. With building administrator trust, it’s quite delicate. I have really only been successful with one hospital with this.
I have so far been successful with finding the items people need. It’s not easy. I can not find it on Amazon or go to Home Depot. However, I can go to a sketchy warehouse in East LA. Pulling up one place which had nine 3M 6900 full face respirators, I text my wife, ‘If I don’t text you in 30 minutes, here is where I am and call the police.’ Honestly, a lot of this feels like I’m making a drug deal. Those things are going for $600 or more on eBay. I met some guy in Alhambra on his bike with two 3M 6900’s tied to it. Quite odd.
Google helps, but It’s a lot of hustle going out into the real word and asking around. For example, you could try and persuade somebody to sell you from the stockpile you know they have all at once instead of releasing on eBay one at a time to inflate the price. That takes a bit of finesse too. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.
I think I can continue to find strange places to fill immediate needs for my small scale operation until our national production capacity increases and they can be better supplied. I am mainly limited by the amount of money I can front, which is why fundraising is important. I wanted to buy more coveralls today. I bought $2,000 worth, but any more than that and I put my family at risk. If I fundraise more tomorrow, I will drive back and get them if they are still there.”
So far, Lukehart says his contributions include:
14 3m 6900 full face masks with p100 filters and replacement filters
About 300 coveralls
500 foot covers
100 hair covers
12 reusable p95 respirators
1000 pairs of gloves
Lukehart is clearly doing something special, and you can get involved to help him out.
“If you want to donate to my project, it will enable me to deliver more supplies to nurses. Financially, it is incredibly risky to undertake this project as I am mostly out of work. The shelter-in-place order has closed my academy and an uncertain future allows me not to take a paycheck to tough through this time. Every bit helps.
If you want to start a similar project in your area, there is literally nothing stopping you. Start with a small social media post asking somebody to tag a nurse in need and go from there.”
You can donate to Lukehart’s efforts through his GoFundMe here.