Greater Chattanooga companies on the front lines of response during pandemic.
As cases of COVID-19 surged throughout the world, throwing everyday life off its axis, individuals and companies across Greater Chattanooga stepped up to help people and businesses find a new normal.
In the health care industry, as doctors and nurses worked hour after hour to treat those who had contracted the disease, Aegle (ayeglah) Gear, a company that makes antimicrobial and fluid-repellent clothing for health care workers, had their backs – as it has since George Brown and Uli Becker, the former president and CEO of Reebok, launched the company in 2015.
Designed to prevent the spread of MRSA, an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria, this line of comfortable, sports-like apparel is treated with a proprietary technology, providing effective control of microorganisms for up to 100 washes.
While the clothing hasn’t been tested on preventing the spread of COVID-19, Brown says the company is confident the virus would die off similarly to MRSA, giving health care workers peace of mind.
“What we learned in the early days of developing Aegle Gear was the concern that a lot of health care workers have for their uniforms, knowing that they could bring disease home to their family,â€ Brown says. “I think with Aegle Gear, you can feel fairly confident that if you take your garment off, lay it down, it’s not going to grow bacteria overnight, where many other garments would.”
While Aegle Gear is still in its early stages, Greater Chattanooga has a long history of innovation in the medical field. For example, beginning as a pharmacy in the region back in the early 1900s, Fillauer, today, is a global leader in the orthotics and prosthetics industry, providing individuals, including Dutch athlete Ronald Hertog, with high-quality products. Hertog was wearing Fillauer’s Obsidian Sprint Blade when he took home a gold medal at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships.
Also seen as a champion – in education, that is – is Learning Blade, a Chattanooga-based company that during the COVID-19 crisis provided parents, who were suddenly tasked with homeschooling their children, with resources to help engage them in STEM. This included giving parents access to free downloadable worksheets they could use to help their children explore research questions and perform simple experiments.
The company also provided schools with either special discounts on or free access to its 12 online missions, which include more than 400 interactive lessons.
One school that took advantage of the lessons was Southern Middle School in Pulaski County, Kentucky.
“Students really seem to enjoy completing the Learning Blade lessons,â€ says James Cox, an eighth-grade science teacher at Southern Middle School. “The activities do a great job of connecting cross-curricular content with real-world scenarios.”
As people’s homes turned into classrooms and office spaces, other industries had to adapt to the situation, too, including the maritime sector. But, thanks to International Maritime Security Associates (IMSA), mariners had the most up-to-date information at their fingertips to help them make the best decisions for crews, passengers and cargo.
This was made possible through IMSA’s Automated Risk Management Solution software, which provided live, real-time tracking of the virus and is currently the only shipboard platform to provide such information.
“We have been tracking different medical issues, disease outbreaks and epidemics around the world well before COVID-19,â€ says Corey Ranslem, CEO of IMSA. “The main difference with COVID and what I think makes it really sobering are all of the port delays, closures, quarantines and restrictions that are taking place based on vessel type and operation. So, for us, it’s not only tracking the disease, but it’s also all the other things you need to know as far as being able to get a vessel in and out of port.”
In addition to providing mariners with this information, Ranslem says the software gives them peace of mind.
“They get information through the platform but also through our operations center that’s located in Chattanooga – they can call us anytime, 24/7,â€ he says. “I think people really like the peace of mind because eventually, we’re going to push through this. When we do and vessel traffic starts moving, it’s going to take a while for some of these restrictions and closures to change, so we’re looking to continue to provide a valuable information source but also a full reach-back service for our operations.”
If you’d like to learn more about the greater Chattanooga area, check out the latest edition of Chattanooga Region Economic Development.