Connecticut National Guard powers COVID-19 testing site
By Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker, 103rd Airlift Wing
/ Published April 17, 2020
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A once-empty parking lot has been transformed into a place where 700 people a day can drive up and be tested for COVID-19, thanks to help from the Connecticut National Guard.
Equipment from the 103rd Air Control Squadron equipment will help power the drive-thru test site, and Soldiers and Airmen from the Connecticut National Guard will assist with administrative support and access control.
The 103rd Air Control Squadron’s expertise and location in nearby Orange makes it the ideal unit for this mission.
“We’re a radar unit, so whenever we get out in the field and set up, it’s always fast,” said Master Sgt. Brian Shove, 103rd Air Control Squadron HVAC shop noncommissioned officer in charge. “We get tents out and supply power with our generators. So when they said they were going to do this, it was easy for us because we knew what we needed to get them off the ground right away.”
State officials expressed their appreciation for the Guard’s support at this site and the many other support functions they have in the state’s pandemic response.
“The National Guard has been vital since the inception of this for mission support and logistical assistance,” said Jake Manke, Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Region 2 coordinator. “We can use them all the way from electrical capabilities to warehouse operations. Anything that’s involved in running this facility, they have been integral with it. From command staff to the enlisted, everybody has been phenomenal.”
The Guard’s efficient response was aided by its experience handling emergency situations.
“Being in the Guard, I feel like that’s ingrained in us,” said Shove. “A lot of us volunteer and come in when they need us and we do our job. This is a great opportunity for our younger Airmen to see how we’re essential to state emergency responses like this.”
“There’s no question that the integration has been phenomenal,” said Manke. “We’ve worked really well together and we’re really appreciative of all the support we’ve been given by the Guard.”