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    Mulitiple services, components, come together to save lives in New York under National Guard's Dual Status Command

    Elmhurst Medical Center Farewell Ceremony

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar N Rubi | 200603-N-HT995-0136 NEW YORK (June 3, 2020) U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to Joint Task...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Lauren Warner 

    New York National Guard

    NEW YORK--When Governor Andrew M. Cuomo decided New York City needed federal troops to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, decided the New York National Guard needed to designate a dual status commander.

    In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the dual status command concept provided an ability to allow a National Guard officer to command both federal and state troops responding to a domestic emergency.
    Since the dual status commander is a National Guard officer, it gives the governor the ability to control both state and federal troops—for example Active Army and Army Reserve Soldiers – operating in his or her state.

    Brigadier General Michel Natali, New York’s Assistant Adjutant General, Army, was named New York’s Dual Status Commander. Eventually he led the efforts of 1,700 federal and New York National Guard troops working in New York City.

    The focus of his efforts would be support to New York City and the stress on its healthcare system.

    The Jacob Javits Convention Center would became a hospital, medical warehouse and command post; active duty and reserve military personnel were sent into city hospitals to help overwhelmed medical staff, and Active Army mortuary affairs troop teamed with Guard Soldiers and Airmen to help the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner deal with rising COVID-19 deaths.

    New York was one of eight states nationwide to create dual status commands to deal with pandemic response missions.

    It was the second time New York put a dual status command in place for a crisis. The New York National Guard proved the concept in 2012 when responding to Superstorm Sandy.

    Natali located his headquarters at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters in Latham and designated the staff of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) to serve as his staff.

    Active duty staff officers from Northern Command, called a Joint Enabling Capabilities (JEC) team, plugged into the 42nd CAB staff to link with federal forces, said Amy National Guard Col. Benjamin Richardson, the dual status command chief of staff.

    This worked because they ran the dual status command headquarters just as they would run their brigade, Richardson said.

    “In our staff, the quick and full integration of the JEC team was seamless,” Natali said.

    The first mission Guard and active duty troops collaborated on was the effort to turn the Javits convention center into an alternative care hospital at the end of March.

    The 104th Military Police Battalion stood up a command post to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies, state agencies, and federal troops operating at Javits.

    The National Guard, active military medical providers, and civilian agencies worked together and were able to assemble a 2,000-bed hospital within a week.

    The 133rd Quartermaster Company helped convert the convention center into a hospital and then set up a medical warehousing operating in the basement.

    The Army’s 44th Medical Brigade from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, provided medical staffing at the Javits New York Medical Station.

    The leaders and staff had no single source document to reference, but this did not stop them from accomplishing their mission, said Command Sgt. Major Robert Jenks, the senior enlisted Soldier at Javits.

    “This medical station was pulled off in a short period of time and was nothing short of a miracle,” Jenks said.

    The original plan was to accept non-COVID-19 patients but when it became clear that what was needed were COVID-19 beds, COVID-19 patients were admitted. Eventually Javits treated 1,095 patients by May 1 when the last patient was discharged.

    When it became clear that it was often more effective to keep COVID-19 patients in place and not move them, federal military medical personnel were sent out to help at New York City’s Public Hospitals.

    The civilian staff had been working non-stop and needed help.

    “The civilian staff at my hospital was burned out and depleted,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Talbert, a member of the 307th Medical Squadron, who was one of those sent to help.

    ''There were at least 40 patients on my floor, and the numbers didn't start to go down until last week.'' He explained those numbers included a broad age demographic, with patients ranging in age from 20-somethings to octogenarians. ''COVID-19 does not discriminate,'' he said. ''They all struggled.''

    The 531st Hospital Center based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky was able to supervise and control relief to more than 700 active and reserve military medical staff deployed to 12 New York Health and Hospital System facilities across New York City.

    Across Manhattan, other elements of the dual status command were addressing another difficult mission related to the pandemic in New York City: the collection and processing of thousands who died of COVID-19.

    The 54th Quartermaster Company based at Fort Lee, Virginia, worked with the Medical Examiner’s office to process the remains of those who died. The 70 Soldiers handled 10,110 remains over two months, between March 26 and May 26.

    Meanwhile, more than 300 New York National guard Soldiers and Airmen did the hard work of going into homes and apartments and removing the remains of those who died there. While an average of 25 people die in their homes in New York City each day, at some points the Soldiers and Airmen were handling almost 300 remains.

    By June 12 the New York National Guard had assisted in the recovery of 2,882 New Yorkers who died during the pandemic.

    The dual-status command was a success and was highly efficient, Natali said.

    Active military and National Guard forces were able to work side by side to provide relief to the New York City health system and mortuary affairs office during their time of tremendous need, Natali added.

    “The reason it worked so well is due to people working in a common direction, toward a common goal,” Richardson said. “When you allow officers and non-commissioned officers to do their job the way they were trained to do and get out of their way, then the mission gets done successfully.”



    Date Taken: 06.07.2020
    Date Posted: 06.18.2020 14:47
    Story ID: 372394
    Location: NEW YORK, NY, US

    Web Views: 76
    Downloads: 0