HONOLULU – The rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Hawaii has prompted the partial activation of the Hawaii National Guard to stand ready to lend its support to the community.
Airmen with Medical Detachment 1 (Med Det 1), Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG), are screening Guard members on state active duty (SAD) by checking their temperatures daily and conducting health surveys.
On March 23, Soldiers with the Hawaii Army National Guard reported for their first day of duty and received a medical screening from the comfort of their vehicles.
"Our Guardsmen were activated to help with the state response to the COVID-19 outbreak," said Air Force Capt. Jeremy Wong, all-hazards triage response chief with Med Det 1 and ER trauma nurse at Queens Medical Center. "Our job is to make sure that they're gonna be healthy and remain healthy for the duration of their deployment."
Soldiers completed a health survey disclosing their age and medical and travel history. They were screened for COVID-19 symptoms, which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath appearing in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Airman First Class Jolene Chun, a medical technician with Med Det 1 and, as a civilian, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), said it's crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and checking for updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"If we're all monitoring each other and the Soldiers that we're looking out for, we could quickly isolate any incident that could happen if it were to get worse," Chun said.
Although isolated from the public, Soldiers are allowed limited interaction with visiting relatives to receive care packages and other goods. While on mission, they continue to maintain their mental and physical well-being.
Army Sgt. Shane Seggar, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment, is among the Soldiers training and preparing for the order that calls them into action.
"It's been good for us. It's given us a chance to train our guys on stuff we don't have time to do during IDT (drill weekends)," said Seggar. "We're teaching classes on calvary skills, doing physical training twice a day. They're all excited to be able to serve their community. That's why most of these guys signed up, and when we get called up, we'll be ready to go."