'Alleviate some of the stress:' Crews begin setting up mask decontamination system in Madison

MADISON -- At an undisclosed Madison building, workers on Tuesday, May 5 prepared for what could be a large operation.

Behind a massive plastic curtain, FOX6's cameras captured four chambers designed to decontaminate used N95 masks -- part of the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS).

Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS)

Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS)

Caitlyn Farragher

"This is to try and control our environment as much as we can," Battelle's Caitlyn Farragher said. "The racks inside is where we'll line up all the masks inside."

The system uses hydrogen peroxide vapors to kill COVID-19. Each chamber can hold thousands of N95 respirators per cycle. The goal is to decontaminate 80,000 of the masks each day.

"The goal is to have a 24/7 operation -- to have all chambers full and running," said Farragher. "Seventy-two hours, we are guaranteeing your mask back."

Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS)

Health care workers from across the state can send in their used N95 masks for cleaning. Anyone who works at the facility will don protective gear from head to toe.

Kevin Wernet

"Anytime we can reuse an N95, that's one less that we'll need," said Kevin Wernet with Wisconsin Emergency Management. "Once folks start sending N95 masks here that are eligible, that'll alleviate some of the stress on the system."

Masks with residue, such as makeup, cannot be decontaminated.

FEMA and the state are helping get the facility set up, with hopes of opening by week's end.