104th Fighter Wing Public Health, innovating and educating
By Master Sgt. Lindsey Sarah Watson-Kirwin, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 13, 2020
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Hundreds of Barnestormers are working in support of the COVID-19 pandemic and rely on the knowledge and expertise of the Barnes Air National Guard Base Public Health officer to guide them in keeping safe while on base and in the community. The 104th Fighter Wing Medical Group PH team is being led by Maj. Barbara Jones, the PH emergency officer, in their COVID-19 response efforts.
Jones has a strong background in infectious disease prevention and response. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health, is an adjunct professor at Ross University in New Hampshire, and owns a consulting business that advises companies and schools in proper infectious disease protocol. Her responsibilities at the 104FW include reviewing the data being collected about COVID-19 and advising the 104th FW Commander, Col. Peter T. Green III.
“Our job is ensuring members are educated and kept safe both on base and when they go out into the community on the state active-duty mission,” said Jones. “Being able to educate people and keep them safe is very rewarding.”
Jones advises people not only to wash their hands, but avoid touching their face, and maintain social distancing recommendations to stay healthy.
“Just because you get exposed does not mean you will get sick if you’re healthy, and to be healthy, you need to get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise,” said Jones.
She also encourages people to consider making lifestyle changes that could reduce their risk of getting sick.
“Vaping or smoking increases your risk of getting sick. If you need a reason to quit, now is the time,” said Jones.
Jones is working with the PH team and the rest of the medical group to push forward, maintaining the mission and leading the way in their COVID-19 response.
“My team is amazing,” said Jones. “It is phenomenal how well they are working together in everything they are doing.”
The PH team is not only optimizing the use of existing tools, but also leaning forward and creating innovative products and processes.
“Chief Jim Brown, our superintendent, developed a database for us to do our analytics and has saved us thousands of hours of work,” said Jones.
Not only is PH working to keep the 104FW members educated and safe, but they are also working with other shops on base to develop equipment and facilitate access to information.
“Our civil engineering squadron has a 3D printer and is printing face shields for us in case we need them,” said Jones. “Public affairs has been massively helpful. They made a video on how members can reuse their N95 mask safely, if they have to.”
The support PH is receiving to help everyone stay healthy and mission-ready extends from leadership, through all of the shops.
“Everyone here from Col. Green down has been massively supportive of Public Health, and he is supportive and thoughtful,” said Jones. “Everyone on base is understanding and working really hard to be compliant,” said Jones.
The PH team and the rest of the 104FW is prepared to continue forward through the COVID-19 response staying mission-ready.
"I am truly impressed with the professionalism and expertise that Maj. Jones and the Public Health team have demonstrated as we continue to deal with our COVID-19 health mitigation to our people and our mission,” said Green. “They are working non-stop to provide the Wing personnel the most effective means for reducing risk and staying healthy."