The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the surface for America, nevertheless, readiness remains a top priority for the United States Army. Despite the difficulties brought on by the current environment, the 1st Armored Division, Combat Aviation Brigade, has continued to prove its readiness.
As the E/501st Company prepares to deploy, they understand that medical readiness is an important step that ensures the functionality of their mission capabilities and its success. However, medical readiness now involves a COVID-19 testing phase, conducted by the CAB’s own medics, followed by a period of quarantine prior to departure.
“On any type of deployment, you have to be ready to combat the risks of the day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Burgess, a combat medic with the CAB. “COVID-19 is a current risk in today's world that could threaten to take one of our Soldiers out of the fight. Today's testing was to mitigate that risk.”
Burgess was one of the many medical Army leaders that were present for the COVID-19 testing that was performed on the Soldiers. While Burgess understands that COVID-19 has challenged us all, he remains confident in the abilities of his team.
“In my opinion, the changes that have been the most difficult have not been medical practices or procedures,” Burgess said. “We have been trained for those.”
Also on the scene was combat medic Staff Sgt. Zachary Elenchin. Elenchin and many other CAB medics, attended thorough training that helped prepare each of them to safely and correctly test Soldiers.
Elenchin said that he, along with five flight medics and numerous ground medics across the Brigade, attended training presented by Army Public Health. The class stressed the importance of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in relation to COVID testing. It was very detailed training that taught them the proper use of PPE and the testing process.
While the training was in depth about how to safely administer the testing, it also stressed the importance of the medics’ safety.
“In order to be authorized to perform the COVID-19 testing, you have to be medically cleared, fit-tested for an N95 mask, complete the training class provided by WBAMC (William Beaumont Army Medical Center), and then validate the training with hands-on practice,” said Burgess. “Our 1AD CAB Medics and Medical NCOs have already met the requirements, trained, and have completed their validation this morning under the supervision of the WBAMC COVID-19 testing team.”
The CAB medical team worked efficiently and safely in completing another phase of medical readiness for the E/501st, so that they are adequately prepared for their deployment. For our medics though, it showed them just how important and effective their force is.
“Their hard work has now enabled our Brigade to be self-sufficient, moving forward as we deploy units,” said Burgess.
Despite the challenges for CAB medics, there were challenges brought on by COVID-19 that were endured by the E/501st as well. 1st Sgt. Michael Castro reflected on the hardships his team faced as their deployment neared.
“Pre deployment leave is something most look forward to, however, due to the restrictions, that changed a lot of plans,” said Castro. “It’s taken some strong platoon leadership to keep resilience high.”
Castro says the support provided by the CAB has helped ensure that their company can travel on time, so that they may return home to their loved ones.
Castro explained, COVID-19 has brought unique challenges for everyone, but those challenges haven’t stood in the way of the Company. Their medic, along with their own Soldiers serving as screening teams, verified personnel were safe and secure to continue, directly ensuring the unit was prepared for success.
The adversity of this pandemic hasn’t deterred the Soldiers or their leadership.
“This company has trained ahead of schedule with little time in challenging conditions and it really is a testament to how a cohesive team can work through obstacles,” said Castro.