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Mark Crampton is used to managing transportation projects. 

But these days, the assistant secretary for operations at the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been focusing more on medicine than transportation. 

Since mid-April, Crampton has been working with the 50-member Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Hospital Surge Task Force helping to secure, supply and staff tents at medical facilities across the state during Maryland’s COVID-19 State of Emergency.  

In all, the task force has arranged for 48 tents and 4 ICU modules at more than two dozen sites, which include hospital campuses, the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and two correctional facilities, among others, Crampton said.  

Crampton and other MDOT employees are playing important roles in the task force’s COVID-19 response. Paul Truntich, director of environment, safety and risk management for the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) also serves on the task force, and crews and equipment from MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and MDOT Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) have helped move beds and some supplies where needed to help prepare for potential COVID-19 patients. 

The supplies distributed by the task force include wheelchairs, trash cans, medical refrigerators and bandages, Crampton said. Supplies are stored in two warehouses then delivered to the tent sites. 

The task force is comprised of medical planners, constructors, logisticians and staffing experts, said Crampton, who has been assisting with a variety of tasks and learning a lot of new medical terminology.

“Every day is a something different,” Crampton said. “It’s a lot of steps, really.” 

He’s been more than happy to help and be part of the MDOT’s contribution to a statewide health initiative.   

“Well, it makes you feel good. I mean, from an altruistic reason, you certainly want to be able to do what’s right, do what’s good, help society, because it’s one of those things,” he said. “It’s probably an easy thing to think, well, how inconvenient it is because I’m not back to normal. Yet, if you’re one of the families who’ve lost a loved one, I think you probably feel a whole lot different about that.” 

Nick Vogel, a field maintenance supervisor at the MDOT SHA’s Churchville shop who has helped move supplies for the task force, had similar sentiments. “It was a no-brainer for me. I love the thought of putting myself out there to help other people and leading by example because that’s what was done to me.” 

“Since I’ve come to state highway,” Vogel said, “I’ve worked with nothing but loving and caring people. That’s why I built a career. “ 

Although the state’s COVID-19 positivity rates are declining, Crampton, Truntich and the rest of the task force remain hard at work. Crampton said the state wants to be prepared for any circumstance.  

Truntich, who was recommended for the task force by MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports, said the work has been challenging but well-worth the effort. 

“It’s been interesting,” Truntich said. “Certainly, a huge learning curve coming from the environment/safety/risk management field.  

“Learning the tremendous amount of work that the Maryland Department of Health has done to protect Marylanders and to prepare and plan and execute to help this pandemic has been amazing,” he said. 

Truntich said MDOT and MDH share a common focus: helping people. The only difference is the tasks the agencies perform. 

“Obviously, being a state employee, you know you’re out there doing things to help the betterment of the state and our citizens and the traveling public,” he said. “But this is especially important because you’re directly impacting the health of so many Marylanders. It is a really good feeling knowing that you’ve played even a small role in helping their lives.”