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    Missouri National Guardsmen conduct COVID testing in Independence

    Missouri Guardsmen conduct COVID testing in Independence

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson | A U.S. Soldier assigned to the 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment, Missouri...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson 

    139th Airlift Wing

    Any other time, the parking lot of the Cable Dahmer Arena, in the heart of Independence, Missouri, might be a place one would expect to be full of concert-goers, or fans of the Kansas City Mavericks hockey team. During the last week of May,however, the empty parking lot served as a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site with dozens of cars lined up in the distance.

    Fifty members of the Missouri Air and Army National Guard operated a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Cable Dahmer Arena, formerly Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Missouri National Guard partnered with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, local health departments, and health care providers to provide approximately 500 tests per day, during a five-day period at the Independence location.

    As a part of Gov. Mike Parson’s Show Me Strong Recovery Plan, the Guard is assisting its inter-agency partners to increase state testing volume to 7,500 tests per day in Missouri. Similar testing is being done in multiple counties across the state.

    “I cannot emphasize enough how important testing is to our overall recovery plan,” Parson said in a briefing earlier in May. “All four pillars of our recovery plan are important, but testing will be the key.The more testing we do, the more knowledge we have on what the situation in Missouri actually looks like, and the better-equipped we are to move forward.”

    Paid for with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the testing is available to all residents of Missouri. Although people can get tested without registering, it is suggested that people register online to make the process go faster.

    "If they pre-register, we have two lanes for that, they will get asked a questionnaire, there's 12 questions just about how they’re feeling," Army National Guard Capt. Andrew Rodenberg said, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment out of Maryville.

    Rodenberg recounts that the first day offered the team of Soldiers and Airmen opportunities to better the experience for people being tested.

    “We started off and had only one lane open. We weren’t anticipating we would have as many people as we got,” Rodenberg said. “We troubleshooted some things, opened up more lanes, and figured out a better process to accommodate everyone. The flow is going pretty good now.”

    Across the parking lot, two tents were set up where awaiting medics are able to administer the test by a nasopharyngeal swab, which will later be transported to a lab.

    “It’s very quick, about 30-seconds we are interacting with the patients,” Air National Guard Maj. Kristie Miller said, critical care nurse for the homeland response force, and member of the 139th Medical Group out of St. Joseph.

    The medics taking the sample via the nasal swab are in full personal protective equipment, including a N95 face respirator, face shield, gown and gloves.

    “We change gloves between each patient, and sanitize hands between each patient as well, “Miller said. “We are doing work/rest cycles, so each medic is in PPE for about an hour.”

    The team of Guardsmen consists of Soldiers with the 1-129th Field Artillery Battalion, and 1-138th Infantry Battalion, Missouri Army National Guard, and Airmen with 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard.

    By assisting state partners in testing Missouri citizens, the Missouri National Guard is helping protect healthcare personnel by eliminating their direct contact with symptomatic individuals.

    “It makes you feel like you are out in the community doing some good, Rodenberg said. “This is my first state emergency duty mission, and it’s an important one. Makes you feel proud.”

    Miller agreed.

    “This is what we signed up to do. This is why we are citizen Soldiers or Airmen. This is what we want to do,” Miller said. “We are all happy to be here and glad to be providing this service to our community.”



    Date Taken: 05.26.2020
    Date Posted: 07.30.2020 12:26
    Story ID: 374906
    Location: INDEPENDENCE, MO, US 

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