By Staff Sgt. Ryan Getsie
PANACA- Task Force 17 Soldiers have been leading the charge in their fight against COVID-19 in major cities, such as Las Vegas, but on June 1, 2020 they began helping out rural Lincoln County residents.
The Lincoln County Health Department’s Emergency Management Office put in a request for National Guard support for two separate community based collection sites, which was approved a short time ago. One location was at Alamo June 1, 2020 and the second was at Lincoln High School June 2nd.
Fifteen Soldiers with the 17th and five with TF Med rolled out of Vegas early Tuesday morning to support the Alamo site mission. Over 20 patients were tested that day in the small community, but those numbers tripled at the high school the following day.
Pvt. Cheyann Harley with TF Med not only enjoyed the almost 20 degree cooler temperatures that came with being in rural Nevada, but she also expressed her enthusiasm about helping during this mission. “I think it’s good to be able to get out and help the smaller towns that may not have the support a big city like Las Vegas has.” Harley said.
The Lincoln County Fire Department was on duty for support, and also provided all the tents, tables, and equipment to run the site. The local emergency management office provided most of the PPE to Soldiers.
Patients pull into ‘station one’ where they will meet Guardsmen who help process the registration. Soldiers will verify patient identification and use that information in the sample log. From there the medics will instruct the people on how to collect the sample themself. Once it’s collected, they will hold the bio-bag open for the patient to place the sealed sample into the test kit bag.
“The patient will keep some paperwork and the other copy will go to the emergency management personnel from Lincoln County that are here today.” Staff Sgt. Keith Linford said. “The emergency management office will call every patient and usually they will get notified in about 24 to 48 hours about the results – whether they test positive or negative.”
The White Pine Community Health Office sent personnel to the sites to observe and get an idea of how to set up and run testing operations. They will be coordinating their own locations in the weeks to come, according to staff reports.
Linford commented about the mission, “It’s good. I feel like we’re helping and making a difference, even in rural Nevada.”