FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – About 850 Pennsylvania National Guard members are helping respond to COVID-19 by supporting a virus testing site, distributing food and setting up a medical station.The community testing site is in Montgomery County, the food operations support the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) medical station is in Glen Mills.The process to “call-up the Guard” in Pennsylvania remains the same as during other domestic support operations.“As with a snowstorm or flood in Pennsylvania, our orders to support missions come from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, with the approval of the adjutant general,” said Col. Frank Montgomery, director of domestic operations for the Pennsylvania National Guard.The process is straightforward, said Maj. Ed Wallace, an emergency preparedness liaison officer who works out of PEMA’s headquarters.“If a county or a Pennsylvania state agency needs assistance, like help setting up a testing site, for instance, the county emergency operations center places a request with PEMA,” Wallace said.“PEMA processes the request and determines what entity is best suited for the mission,” he said. “If PEMA determines the best entity is the Pennsylvania National Guard, they call us and we begin working on how to meet the mission. At times working in coordination with PEMA, FEMA may be involved as well.”After PEMA asks for help, the joint operations center at Fort Indiantown Gap looks at the units within the Guard to determine what unit or task force is best suited to meet the mission.“We have a large National Guard here in Pennsylvania [approximately 19,000 National Guard members],” said Lt. Col. Pete Mielo, the operations officer for domestic operations. “So, we can look statewide and see what unit has the functionality needed, or what unit is geographically closest. Like in the case of supporting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, it made sense to have Task Force West, who is geographically located near Pittsburgh to handle the mission. They have done an outstanding job.”During domestic operations, the Pennsylvania Guard is separated into geographic task forces and functional task forces. The geographic task forces are known as Task Forces North, South and West; functional task forces are Task Forces Aviation and Support.The Pennsylvania National Guard operates like the other 53 National Guards located in each state, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As of Tuesday, nearly 27,000 Air and Army National Guard professionals were supporting the COVID-19 response across the nation at the direction of their governors.For more National Guard news: Guard Facebook: Guard Twitter: Guard COVID-19 Response: (COVID-19): from the CDC: Response: