Iowa Army National Guard pilots helped transport COVID-19 tests from a Test Iowa site in Sioux City, Iowa, to the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville, Iowa, on May 4.
The pilots, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mike Mauss and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Burrows, along with helicopter maintainer Sgt. Jason Humke, with Company A, 1st Battalion, 376th Aviation Security and Support, transported the tests in a UH-72 Lakota helicopter.
Air transport missions are expected to continue as Test Iowa sites across the state provide those who may have come in contact with COVID-19 the opportunity to be tested for the virus.
"To keep the lab running efficiently, ideally we want to have as many test kits there as we can,” said Capt. Brad Nolan, assistant operations officer with the 67th Troop Command and Task Force East. This requires getting test kits to the SHL as quickly as possible.
Previously, the test kits had been driven by Soldiers with the 109th Multifunctional Medical Battalion from the Test Iowa sites to the State Hygienic Laboratory in trips that could take up to six hours, said Nolan.
While Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest that tests can be viable for more than 72 hours if kept at the appropriate temperatures, immediate transport is recommended and both efficiency and safety are primary goals in the National Guard’s support of the state’s response to the pandemic.