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    Battalion helps hometown weather storm

    Battalion helps hometown weather storm

    Courtesy Photo | Soldiers remove snow from the walkway in front the Little Lambs Chapter II daycare...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. John Montoya 

    Joint Force Headquarters - New Mexico National Guard

    ROSWELL, N.M. - The 717th Brigade Support Battalion based in Roswell is continuing to help its city make it through winter storm Goliath which started Dec. 26-27. The 717th is helping to aid local emergency services and perform tasks to help get life back to normal for the residents of Roswell.

    Staff Sgt. Anthony Munoz, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 717th BSB's Tactical Operations Center, described their role in the emergency as an overflow for the local emergency services to help alleviate their workload.

    "Any of the emergency services they could not handle shifted to us and we would take on what we could handle with our resources and pass back to them what we didn't have the appropriate resources to address," said Munoz.

    One of the main tasks the 717th covered was transportation to Fresenius Medical Center for patients who require dialysis to live. This service was vital to the community because the local medical system could not properly care for dialysis patients. According to the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center Marketing Director Brooke Linthicun, an influx of dialysis patients to their facility would have overwhelmed the ability to treat them. She stated that they do not have the medical equipment Fresenius Medical Center possesses and they would have to transfer any dialysis patients to medical facilities outside of Roswell.

    Over the course of three days from Dec. 29–31, the 717th averaged about 25 dialysis patient transports to the Fresenius Medical Center. Soldiers, such as Pfc. Nestor Renteria an infantry Soldier in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1- 200th Infantry Battalion based in Las Cruces, transported dialysis patients using a high mobility multipurposed wheeled-vehicle or HMMWV. He said his passengers enjoyed riding in the vehicles because it was a completely different experience for them.

    Renteria said, "What I've enjoyed the most is seeing the reactions from the senior citizens and all veterans we've been helping. Just seeing a smile on their face and them knowing that they're in safe hands and their life isn't at risk anymore."

    In addition to helping dialysis patients, the 717th also assisted the residents of Roswell by performing tasks like clearing out snow from the parking lot of the two locations of Little Lambs Daycare Center, so parents could go back to work, said Munoz.

    The 717th helped the local fire department deliver life saving medications to residents who were trapped in their homes. Munoz said 717th Soldiers helped fire department personnel clear snow from resident's homes who were in need of medication.

    Along with taking care of Roswell, the 717th was also tracking activity in Hobbs and Clovis. Soldiers in these cities were mainly clearing roads and helping drivers get their vehicles unstuck.

    Maj. Randall Bates, 717th Battalion Administrative Officer, said the Soldiers had been working hard maintaining the long hours of dialysis treatment schedule which required Soldiers to be up by 4:30 am and finish the day by 8:30 p.m. Fresenius Medical Center was closed on New Year's Day and Bates foresees the dialysis mission winding down by Jan. 4, to due the road clearing efforts and the snow melting away thus allowing patients and staff to arrive to the dialysis center on their own.

    Overall Bates said the most difficult part of this mission was simply getting a critical mass of Soldiers back to the Roswell Readiness Center to have the manpower to accomplish large scale change.

    "The biggest issue we had was our initial response because no one could get out of their driveways. We spent two days just trying to get enough guys on the ground to do the job," said Bates.

    Bates and another Soldier managed to get to work using snowshoes and bike trails, but they soon found the HMMWV's would get stuck in the high snow banks which surrounded the readiness center, said Bates.

    In order for Bates to get enough Guardsmen to the center, he and the other Soldier had to drive Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, or LMTVs to each Soldier's house to pick them up and transport them to work.
    These were the only vehicles which could make it through the snow drifts, said Bates.

    Currently Guardsmen are arriving in Roswell from different parts of the state in order to help dig out Roswell. Some of the Soldiers are from different units or brigades, but this ad hoc team of Soldiers had been working well together, said Bates.

    The 717th has proven to be a life-saving asset in its operation of dialysis patient and medical staff transport. Munoz said simply relieving stress on the already overburdened local emergency services proved to be instrumental in saving lives and getting life back to normal for the residents of Roswell.



    Date Taken: 01.02.2016
    Date Posted: 01.04.2016 17:25
    Story ID: 185628
    Location: ROSWELL, NM, US 
    Hometown: CLOVIS, NM, US
    Hometown: HOBBS, NM, US

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