W.Va. Guard teams up to provide training for Veterans home, first responders against COVID-19

By Maj. Holli Nelson | West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs | April 14, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) provided training on proper personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing and decontamination methods and best practices for the prevention of COVID-19 spread today to staff at the Barboursville Veterans home. Members of Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) will make additional visits to the facility in the coming days to train all support staff and facilitate implementing plans and procedures for how to deal with COVID-19 positive cases, if any were to arrive.

 

“West Virginia has one of the highest per capita populations of veterans in the nation and we must do everything in our power to ensure that they are protected against this virus,” stated Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG. “In addition to assisting our veterans, our organization continues to prioritize West Virginia’s elderly population and will move forward with plans to provide COVID-19-specific prevention training to all long-term care facilities in the state. We have made good progress in flattening the curve here, but we cannot let our guard down, especially with our most vulnerable population.”

 

Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 32 days ago, the WVNG has completed nearly 370 missions through our four lines of effort of operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies and conducting data analysis to combat the virus. Currently, 600 members of the WVNG are on duty serving the citizens of the State of West Virginia.

 

Today, members of the WVNG, Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, Yeager Airport, Kanawha County Emergency Management, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and JanCare Ambulance tested decontamination and sanitization methods for first responder vehicles at Executive Air in Charleston. The goal will be to establish a decontamination and sanitization lane for ambulances, police cars and fire/emergency services vehicles that have transported known or potential COVID-19 patients, ultimately providing protection for our first responders and their families.

 

Since our last update, (TF-CRE) stood up an additional 18 personnel to assist in providing training, rapid COVID-19 testing response and COVID-19 lane support for drive through testing in Martinsburg.  TF-CRE will provide the first of more than 50 mobile training team engagements in some of West Virginia’s most active areas, including Monongalia County and surrounding locations. Training of more than 20 retail establishments will take place today on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear. So far, this team has taught more than 1,400 personnel from 427 stores while also assisting with COVID-19 drive through testing lanes at seven locations across the Mountain State.

 

Specific facility best practices and PPE training took place today at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood and TF-CRE has provided training to five of the seven largest hospitals in the state.

 

Our mission of supporting the most vulnerable populations in the state continues to make an impact and in the last 24 hours we delivered more than 5,000 meals through our refrigerated trucks to Boone, Tyler, Webster and Wirt Counties. In addition, we packed 184 one-day family boxes at the Mountaineer Food Bank.

 

Task Force Sustainment, the team dedicated to moving critical PPE supplies and running supply chain logistics for COVID-19 response, is continuing to refine PPE distribution processes with our agency partners at the Department of Health and Human Resources and Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management today. Yesterday, TF-Sustainment received 96,000 surgical masks, 25,200 face shields and 200 gallons of hand sanitizer.

 

The number of personnel supporting the Workforce West Virginia mission remains the same and 10 of our service members are undergoing training to begin processing unemployment claims this week.

 

Our data analysts working with DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams were able to support 194 contact tracing engagements to two expedited specimen transfers to track the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

 

The WVNG has conducted the following missions since coming on duty to support the state in all aspects of COVID-19 preparation and response:

               

•             25 Soldiers are providing assistance with food box building and distribution at with the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington.

•             WVNG medical personnel are supporting the COVID-19 hotline in Charleston, answering calls and providing information to concerned citizens.

•             39 Liaison officers from the WVNG are working hand-in-hand with the various West Virginia agencies who are leading the response to COVID-19 to include the Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Department of Education.

•             The WVNG’s Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) has provided instruction to more than 364 first responders, hospital staff, and retailers in order to help prepare them on how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of, “donning” and “doffing” of PPE. 

•             Soldiers from TF-CRE have provided capabilities for conducting COVID-19 swabs for more than 500 personnel utilizing PAPRs PPE that can be decontaminated and reused, greatly reducing the use of disposable PPE.

•             Soldiers continue to provide logistical support for delivery of PPE from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) to hospitals and health departments.

•             The WVNG has fielded a network of seven epidemiology teams to assist DHHR with COVID-19 tracking and analytics.

•             We continue to provide logistical pickup and transfer of PAPRs and canisters to various health care networks in the event of a surge of patients.

•             Soldiers are providing traffic control assistance to drive through testing facilities in Huntington, Grafton, and Lewis County.

•             Soldiers are assisting Workforce West Virginia to increase capacity to process unemployment claims in the state.

•             Communications staff assisted in the testing of broadband access in underserved areas of West Virginia for telehealth initiatives and provided rewiring capabilities for St. Francis Hospital as it is transformed into an Alternate Care Site.

•             25 Soldiers assisted in the transfer of medical supplies and equipment from Fairmont to St. Francis Hospital to support a surge in COVID-19 patients, if needed, at the ACS.

 

All current and future missions performed by the WVNG are a part of a coordinated state-level public health preparation and response effort for the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, initiated by Governor Jim Justice, and being led by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

 

The West Virginia National Guard has a bench of nearly 6,400 experienced and proven Air and Army National Guard professionals who frequently train side-by-side with state and local emergency responders, making them well-suited for domestic operations.

 

Our National Guard members work and live in every community have a proven record of accomplishment supporting civilian authorities during and after homeland emergencies.