NEWS | Jan. 13, 2022

West Virginia National Guard training for hospital missions

By Maj. Josh Poling West Virginia National Guard

When West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice requested West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) support in area hospitals the first week of January 2022, senior staff and subject matter experts formulated a plan and began execution within 72 hours.   

“We’ve been tasked with many things throughout the pandemic response,” said WVNG chief case manager U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Snedegar. “Early on we were swabbing and testing, and then it came to actually giving the vaccinations and booster shots. Now will be performing particular duties in local hospitals.” 

WVNG Medical Detachment staff, which consists of experts from all areas of healthcare to include nurses, physician’s assistants, doctors and EMTs, built upon the Army’s existing combat lifesaver course to prepare Airmen and Soldiers for their mission in the hospitals. They added training such as hospital procedures, basic patient care and patient privacy regulations. Snedegar said he has several registered nurses and other medical professionals on his training staff and leaned on them to flesh out this unique training need.  

 “We’re here to train [Soldiers and Airmen] and prepare them for anything they may be asked to do within certain established guidelines,” he said.  

Approximately 150 Soldiers and Airmen volunteered for the first 40-hour training course, conducted at Camp Dawson in Kingwood, West Virginia, Jan. 7-10, 2022. Already, 25 Guard Members from this group are scheduled for orientation at Charleston Area Medical Center on Monday to assist with the current COVID-19 surge. 

“Our Soldiers and Airmen will be an important supporting element to the nurses, doctors and staff at these hospitals,” said Brig. Gen. Gene Holt, Joint Task Force Corona commander and Assistant Adjutant General – Army. “The Guard members will perform non-patient care tasks that will free up nurses and nurse’s assistants to let them be more effective in what they need to do to help patients within the hospitals.”  

With this asymmetrical mission, WVNG leadership are ensuring that the Soldiers and Airmen can be used effectively to optimize hospital worker’s time.  

A second training for Guard members to support this mission is scheduled for Jan. 17-21 at Camp Dawson.