Va. National Guard resuming COVID-19 response support

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen conduct training with Virginia Department of Health medical professionals Sept. 4, 2020, in Sandston, Virginia. Approximately 85 personnel are trained and ready to resume support for Virginia’s COVID-19 response, and they are available to conduct sample test collection and training on the proper fit and wear of personal protective equipment. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

RICHMOND, Va. — Approximately 85 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are trained and ready to resume support for Virginia’s COVID-19 response Sept. 8, 2020, and they are available to conduct COVID-19 sample test collection and training on the proper fit and wear of personal protective equipment. They spent about a week training and and preparing to include training with Virginia Department of Health medical professionals Sept. 4. The VNG will also provide regional planners to support Virginia Department of Emergency Management and VDH priorities for COVID-19 response.

“Teaming with VDH and VDEM, the Virginia National Guard remains a valuable partner in the integrated COVID-19 response efforts for Virginia,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, Director of the VNG Joint Staff. “The VNG’s COVID-19 response efforts highlight the value of the National Guard as a military force that remains ready for employment at home or abroad in support of the needs of the commonwealth and nation.”

VNG personnel supported the state’s COVID-19 response from April through July, and they collected nearly 106,000 testing samples, helped distribute nearly 1,350,000 pounds of food and provided more than 51,000 hours of planning augmentation to Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

VDH medical professionals conducted training on proper procedures for sample collection for COVID-19 tests, donning and doffing personal protective equipment and the proper fit and testing for N-95 respirator masks to ensure all personnel were ready to begin operations. A large number of the 85 personnel are returning to duty after conducting operations from April through July, so the teams already have extensive experience with their planned missions.

VDH will determine where the VNG conducts testing operations, and it is expected to focus on congregate settings include long-term care facilities. Localities looking for testing and training support should contact VDH directly for scheduling.

The VNG will provide four teams to conduct COVID-19 sample test collection and two teams to conduct training on the proper fit and wear of personal protective equipment in support of state wide COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Each sample collection team is made up of three personnel with a qualified medic to collect the samples, an assistant and a supply specialist who tracks the samples.

The PPE training team is made up of four personnel with a team leader who serves as the primary instructor, an assistant instructor, an audio visual specialist to manage training aides and a fit test specialist who manages medical questionnaires and performs a qualitative fit test.

Additional Soldiers and Airmen will provide mission command, logistics and administrative support for the teams.

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Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen conduct training with Virginia Department of Health medical professionals on the proper fit and testing of personnel protective equipment Sept. 4, 2020, in Sandston, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)