RING sends humanitarian aid to the Bahamas and Timor-Leste
U.S. Air National Guard Airmen from the 143d Airlift Wing Civil Engineering Squadron participate in a subject matter expert exchange with the Royal Bahamian Defence Force at Coral Harbour Base, Nassau, The Bahamas, March 11, 2019. The exchange takes place as part of the Rhode Island National Guard’s partnership with the Commonwealth of The Bahamas through the State Partnership Program. Rhode Island has been partnered with The Bahamas since 2005. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Deirdre Salvas) VIEW ORIGINAL

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. – The Rhode Island National Guard partnered with the University of Rhode Island to send critical medical equipment to the South-Pacific island nation of Timor-Leste and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

The 40 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines will be converted to ventilators. The machines and conversion kits are provided under the National Guard's State Partnership Program (SPP).

The SPP is a Department of Defense security cooperation program that pairs the National Guard of a U.S. state or territory with a partner country's military, security forces, or government agencies responsible for emergency and disaster response. Now in its 27th year, it offers cooperative, mutually beneficial and enduring relationships between individual U.S. states and partner nations around the world.

The RING SPP has been working on an initiative to support its partner nations, The Bahamas and Timor-Leste, to combat the COVID-19 virus. The University of Rhode Island's assistance and donations made possible the delivery of the equipment.

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Fontaine, 143d Airlift Wing Medical Group commander, said the CPAP machines are used to treat patients with sleep apnea but "can be combined with oxygen therapy hoods to help support ventilation in patients and, with proper circuit configuration, decrease the aerosolization of the virus."

"They have been used to treat patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in the U.S., and in Italy have been used during the COVID-19 crisis," he said. "Patients can be treated with hoods in hopes of avoiding intubation and mechanical ventilation."

Fontaine said the devices can also be used when a patient is weaned off a ventilator so that the ventilator can be prepared for the next patient.

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How the National Guard is helping: https://www.nationalguard.mil/coronavirus/

Photos of the National Guard response: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/albums/72157713483827538

Latest from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/

U.S. response: https://www.coronavirus.gov/

White House-CDC response: https://www.coronavirus.gov/

State Partnership Program: http://www.nationalguard.mil/Leadership/Joint-Staff/J-5/International-Affairs-Division/State-Partnership-Program/