WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - The Oregon National Guard is helping consolidate and distribute critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical and assisted living facilities and tribal nations throughout the state.The shortage of PPE has strained many communities around the country. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has focused delivery of emergency shipments to underserved communities such as the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.Key leaders from the Oregon Army National Guard met with tribal leaders April 21 to help renew the relationship between both parties and reinforce the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic."It's important that we have adequate PPE because every time we have new testing capabilities come in the door, we immediately look at our PPE supply and surmise if we have enough to match that response," said Hyllis Dauphinais, the local incident commander (IC) for the Warm Springs reservation during the COVID-19 outbreak.During an incident command system (ICS) briefing, everyone maintained physical distance and wore masks to help slow the spread of the virus. Dauphinais said using a cloth mask, as most were wearing, also helps conserve the medical masks needed by health care workers interacting directly with patients."We're trying not to 'take-up' a medical or procedural mask when we are not in direct proximity to each other. ... This will help extend our supply," he said.The reservation land of the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute Native American tribes extends from the Cascade Mountains and along the Deschutes River – more than 1,000 square miles of picturesque Central Oregon landscape. The economic base includes natural resource forest products, hydroelectric power and agricultural production, as well as casino revenues and a nationally renowned tribal museum.The coronavirus outbreak has strained revenues and jobs. Dauphinais estimated the casino might open as early as June. "The closure impacts nearly 140 staff and employees who are really struggling now."Danny Martinez, the emergency manager and IC for the Confederated Tribes, called the meeting "history in the making.""We talk about this every day – trust responsibility … and this goes back to 1855," he said, detailing the confidential bond with sovereign nations. "This doesn't allow the state jurisdiction, but we work in partnership … not so much a government-to-government policy … but more in that trusted understanding, and that's what's so great to have both parties here today."Brig. Gen. William J. Prendergast IV, land component commander for the Oregon Army National Guard, appreciated the invitation to visit the reservation."Thank you so much. We understand the urgent need for PPE in response to COVID-19," he said.Prendergast was impressed with the ICS process that was part of the briefing and noted the time-tested adage, "All emergencies are local – and this is truly spectacular to see how this team here is able to identify the key issues and address them quickly."ICS Finance Section Chief Yvonne Iverson, who had been tracking the PPE supply before the coronavirus outbreak, detected those rapid assessments."I just wanted to note that we have been tracking the PPE in our warehouse and we got down to just enough for a few days ... so with your help (the Oregon National Guard) and Danny's help, we were able to receive enough PPE for our present needs," she said."We now have enough PPE to adhere to the new guidance of wearing a mask at all times and, more importantly, to last for another 53 days," Iverson said. "We are sitting in a good spot, but we started off in rough shape."The Oregon National Guard has been delivering PPE from the Oregon Department of Administrative Service (DAS) warehouse in Wilsonville to seven major hubs around the state, which in turn ensure PPE reaches all 36 counties and nine tribal nations."The big thing for us is serving our communities," said Lt. Col. Philip DeMontigny, the task force assurance commander overseeing operations at the Wilsonville warehouse for the Oregon Army National Guard."Our Soldiers are highly motivated to do this because they know they are helping Oregonians," he said at the meeting. "I can't wait to tell my Soldiers later this afternoon that, 'Hey this is how it looks in Warm Springs, and this is the importance of what you're doing in this community.' "The tribal leaders say they welcome the National Guard's support."There has been a spirit of cooperation over the years, especially with respecting our air space over tribal lands," said Tribal Council Chairman Raymond Tsumpti. "With search-and-rescue operations, as well as recovery efforts in the past, the National Guard has always responded in kind, and we appreciate that."While presenting a lithograph of a World War II-era 41st Division Soldier to Tsumpti and the tribe, Prendergast emphasized how he sees more opportunities to grow closer with many of the tribal nations."We are all one community within the four walls of the state of Oregon," Prendergast said. "We may be of different cultures, but it's us coming together, and I see how the National Guard can help bridge some of that gap."For more National Guard news: http://www.nationalguard.mil/National Guard Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheNationalGuard/National Guard Twitter: https://twitter.com/usnationalguardNational Guard COVID-19 Response: https://www.nationalguard.mil/coronavirus/Coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.coronavirus.gov/Latest from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/COVID-19 Response: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/albums/72157713483827538