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    Community COVID Fighters: A Day in Lane 8

    Community COVID Fighters: A Day in Lane 8

    Photo By Sgt. Arcadia Hammack | Residents in their vehicles await guidance from Maryland National Guard members after...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Arcadia Hammack 

    58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade

    On an early near freezing gloomy Wednesday morning U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Wolfe of the 104th Medical Company Area Support, Maryland Army National Guard, prepares his vaccination station. He raises his hands to be warmed by one of the heaters hanging from one of the white tents.

    Wolfe is part of a team of nine in his tent at the Six Flags Mass Vaccination Site in Bowie, Maryland, to include four members of the MDNG and five nurses with Maxim Healthcare Services. Three tents make up the site, each with two vehicle lanes and 2-3 stations in each lane.

    As time draws closer to the 8 a.m. site opening, Wolfe and the team begin to sanitize their hands and don disposable gloves and other personal protective equipment.

    “Lane 8!” shouts one of the Guard members as he directs a patient’s vehicle to the vaccination lane.

    As the vehicle pulls into lane 8, they are greeted by U.S. Army Spc. Brett Leadmon of the 104th MCAS. Leadmon confirms their appointment while Wolfe gets the vaccination ready.

    Wolfe is wearing a black micro fleece cap, a white disposable face mask, a face shield, his Army Combat Uniform, a neon yellow safety vest, and blue gloves – leaving only his eyes visible through the plastic face shield. His soft green eyes squint at the needle filled with the Pfizer vaccine, inspecting it for the correct dosage and damage.

    In a jovial manner, he walks over to the driver’s side of the vehicle, eager to do his job. The patient trembles before Wolfe and expressed, “I’m nervous… I’m very nervous.”

    As Wolfe was wiping her arm with an alcohol pad, he started to say,
    “You’re going to sit on a swing, and while you’re sitting on the swing, you feel water dripping on your arm, and you’re not going to let it ruin your day because water never killed anyone anyway.”

    He continues, “You get tired of the water on your arm, so you get up and you go for a walk. You see the birds, the bees and everything in between. While you’re walking, you feel a little bug land on you. Before you know, it’s a bee. And it’s done stung you and left somewhere in-between.”

    The patient was put at ease and did not even realize that Wolfe had administered the vaccine.

    Wolfe knows how to care for patients and thrives under pressure, since he works as a paramedic in a civilian capacity. If he was not at this site vaccinating Marylanders, you could find him on an ambulance providing emergency medical assistance somewhere in Maryland.

    While waiting for the next vehicle, Wolfe turns on his portable speaker, begins to play the song “Any Way You Want It” by Journey, and starts to dance.

    Fatou Holley, one of the nurses with MHS, starts to bob her head and before she even realized it, she was dancing and singing along.

    Holley works in lane 8 with Wolfe, but in the second station. From their stations, you could tell that they were helping each other get through the day.

    “Wolfe keeps me entertained. I have worked in other tents, but this one is just, and he is so friendly!” exclaimed Holley as she was dancing to “Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid. “You see the music going on already? And he got me dancing!”

    As the hours went by and as Wolfe vaccinated many people, his energy never died down. Maybe it was because the sun finally made an appearance, enlightening everyone’s moods as the warmth it provided was appreciated. The past few weeks in Maryland had been icy and gloomy. The temperature of this day, February 24, finally made it into the 50s, which was a call for celebration. But Wolfe’s zeal was there regardless of the situation.

    As the day begins to wind down, Wolfe starts to recall some of the most unforgettable Marylanders that he has vaccinated.

    “We had a mother who came in with her nonverbal autistic daughter, they both were very highly immunocompromised,” said Wolfe. “They were very nervous and worried about being out, let alone, getting the vaccine.”

    Wolfe acknowledges the tension around this vaccine, as these are unprecedented times and understands that when some patients see people in uniform, it may make them feel uneasy.

    “I was able to help relieve her of the stress, but she was still nervous about her daughter getting the vaccine since her daughter was not capable of understanding what was going on. She explained to us that she has not been out of the house since this pandemic started, because her doctor had told her that with their health complications, that it was without a doubt, a death sentence if they got COVID,” said Wolfe. “She said she doesn’t even get to go out to get groceries. She can’t do anything. Everything has to be quarantined before it’s brought into the house.”

    The daughter did get vaccinated and the mother said to Wolfe after she started tearing up, “You’re giving us hope of getting back to our normal lives, being able to be out go to work, letting us be able to live our lives again.”

    Wolfe starts to quiver as some tears begin to well up in his eyes, as if recalling the story gave him an epiphany.

    “[That] was one of the moments when I finally realized we’re actually doing something here,” said Wolfe. “We’re making a difference in people’s lives whether we believe it or not.”

    It was just another day, in lane 8, for Wolfe.

    Wolfe is one of over 700 National Guard Service members who are assisting with the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the state of Maryland.



    Date Taken: 02.24.2021
    Date Posted: 04.01.2021 15:19
    Story ID: 392866
    Location: BOWIE, MD, US 

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