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Arkansas ANG medics keep COVID-19 testing line moving

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Air National Guard Master Sgt. Ellen Garrett secures a COVID-19 nose swab for testing at a drive-thru on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus downtown. Garrett and five other Arkansas Air National Guard Airmen, along with 10 Arkansas Army National Guard Soldiers are on state active duty orders to assist with the state's response to the pandemic. The 16 Guardsmen at UAMS comprise half the state's 32 Guardsmen on state active duty as of March 23, 2020. (Photo by Mr. John R. Oldham, Arkansas National Guard, Released)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Air National Guard Master Sgt. Ellen Garrett secures a COVID-19 nose swab for testing at a drive-thru on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus downtown. Garrett and five other Arkansas Air National Guard Airmen, along with 10 Arkansas Army National Guard Soldiers are on state active duty orders to assist with the state's response to the pandemic. The 16 Guardsmen at UAMS comprise half the state's 32 Guardsmen on state active duty as of March 23, 2020. (Photo by Mr. John R. Oldham, Arkansas National Guard, Released)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --

Six Arkansas Air Guard medics are in the COVID-19 coronavirus fight in downtown Little Rock, helping assess nearly 1,400 Arkansans who passed through an efficient covered drive-thru testing site on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus.

While Master Sgt. Darrell Gentry, NCO in-charge medical readiness in the 189th Medical Group, directs traffic into the downtown testing site, Master Sgt. Ellen Garrett, 189th Medical Group NCO in-charge of nursing services, dons personal protective equipment to start her shift between three lanes of parked cars, assessing Arkansans vital signs and asking questions about their health.

“We’re having them drive through. We take their temperature, and see if they are running any fever,” she said.

UAMS physicians meet with each patient, assess symptoms and determines if a patient receives a swab for COVID-19 or sends them on their way to perhaps return later, if a patient doesn’t appear to be exhibiting certain symptoms.

From March 19 through Noon March 23, Garrett estimated roughly 1,400 Arkansans had driven through to seek advice and be tested for coronavirus.

The six-person team at UAMS comprises a small portion of the Arkansas National Guard’s overall support to the state. To date, 32 Soldiers and Airmen are in central Arkansas, in direct supporting roles to civil authorities. Another nine are on orders, augmenting the Arkansas National Guard’s Joint Operations Center staff as it coordinates the military response on behalf of the adjutant general.

When they’re not wearing their nation’s uniform, Garrett works at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden, Ark., as an athletic trainer and allied health instructor. Gentry is a phlebotomist at the Little Rock Veterans Affairs hospital.

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