BALTIMORE – Recently activated Maryland Air National Guard members are working at a Strategic National Stockpile in Maryland, preparing and loading medical supplies and equipment to help the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Maryland Department of Health, working with Gov. Larry Hogan's COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, has developed a plan to allocate scarce resources to provide as much protection as possible to the state's most vulnerable populations, considering the level of need, as well as access in the commercial pipeline.
All assets provided by the Strategic National Stockpile were prioritized for health care workers and hospitals. The Strategic National Stockpile is a national supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in severe public health emergencies that cause local supplies to run out. The stockpile is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is stored at key locations throughout the United States.
Airmen from the 175th Wing, based at Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland, have been at the site sorting medical equipment and supplies, preparing them for shipment and loading them on trucks to be distributed across the state.
"Today we are taking the supplies [provided by the federal government], such as gowns and gloves and the things that health departments, hospitals, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, nursing homes, and Emergency Medical Services around the state that are in short supply," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Malloy, a ground transportation specialist with the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "I've always been proud to wear this uniform, especially when we get deployed on the federal side. But, this time being activated on the state side, I feel really proud to be able to serve my community and be able to help those in our community, those in need."
This is not the Maryland National Guard's first experience working with the Strategic National Stockpile. During the 2018 Vigilant Guard Exercise, 15 members of the Maryland Air National Guard practiced preparing to ship medical supplies from the stockpile to combat simulated hurricane and waterborne illnesses in Maryland.
"This is a great example of the value the National Guard brings to emergencies like this," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the adjutant general of Maryland. "Our troops are not only cleared to work at sensitive locations, such as the Strategic National Stockpile, but they have had hands-on experience doing so. These kinds of established relationships are crucial to rapid, effective crisis response."
The Maryland National Guard is working alongside various agencies and civil authorities, such as the Maryland Department of Health, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are really proud of our partnership with the National Guard, both for this response and past activities," said Robert R. Neall, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health. "We appreciate their expertise and level of professionalism. As we are able to acquire additional personal protective equipment, we will continue to coordinate with the National Guard to get it out quickly into the hands of the health care providers and organizations who need it most."