By Sgt. Christopher Dennis
Fort Wainwright, Alaska – One of the responsibilities that has been taken on in order to achieve Fort Wainwright’s success in having no cases of COVID-19 is Arctic Wolves operations of two barracks assigned for the quarantining of Soldiers during the pandemic since March 23.
While there are no current cases of Soldiers on Fort Wainwright having the illness, building 3440 and 3448 were designated to house those that needed to be isolated for the 14-day period as directed by CDC guidelines.
Currently, 10 Soldiers are in the barracks, but that number may rise in the future as Soldiers may arrive at Fort Wainwright as more people are allowed to move to Fort Wainwright.
At their most the two buildings contained 44 Soldiers that needed to be quarantined, with a total of 61 having completed the process.
Not all Soldiers that go through the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team barracks are from the brigade, others have also come from the aviation units, quartermaster units and the Northern Warfare Training Center.
“About a third come from the National Training Center, a third come from units deployed and a third from those returning from leave,” said 1st Lt. Alec Gualdoni, the head of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division’s COVID-19 response cell.
The first challenge in the quarantine process is getting the inbound Soldiers to the barracks.
The medics from the COVID-19 response cell helped educate 60 service members, from across multiple commands with basic problems in transporting people from the Airport to the buildings in order keep their drivers safe and not spread the virus at the same time, according to Gualdoni.
Once inside the barracks, Soldiers are given a questionnaire sheet, temperature check, prescription medication as necessary, and are provided bed linens for their stay.
“For in-processing I have to take vitals, ask them if they’ve had any symptoms, take temperatures and do a medical assessment on them,” said Pvt. Odis Sharp, a medic with the Arctic Wolves Brigade.
Two noncommissioned officers and four junior enlisted in 12-hour shifts comprise the crew that maintains the standards that are needed in the barracks by answering phones, getting food three times a day, sanitizing surfaces and mopping every three hours with bleach.
The quarantine crew changes into Army Physical Fitness Uniforms for their duty time inside the building and at the end of the shift their uniforms are cleaned and stored for their next shift, said Staff Sgt. Favian Hightower, a combat engineer with the 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion.
During the quarantine, Soldiers are provided a room that has been supplied with donations from Fort Wainwright Garrison in the form of bed sheets, a TV and pay internet made accessible to the barracks in mid-April, said Gualdoni.
Short breaks outside were added to the daily routine to ease the feeling of being cooped up, which came from lessons learned from Soldiers quarantined at Fort Bliss.
After the two-week stay is complete and the service member is cleared by medical staff, they are out processed in a similar fashion as they came in.
They are provided cleaning supplies for cleaning their own room and then the barracks crew follow through and clean key points again to ensure safety, according to Sgt. Andrew Head from 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment.
“When someone out-processes, we go up there ourselves and sanitize and disinfect by cleaning up key points,” said Head.