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Indiana National Guard helps medical workers at state prisons

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Runser
  • Indiana National Guard

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen provided medical support to Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) facilities across the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These medical professionals quickly augmented the governor’s effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in correctional facilities during this public health crisis,” said Maj. Chris Johanningsmeier, 776th Battlefield Engineer Brigade operations officer.

National Guard members supporting this mission were chosen due to their qualifications as medical professionals with an Army military occupational specialty of 68W, health care specialist, or air force specialty code 4N, aerospace medical service specialist.

Indiana National Guard leaders carefully considered EMTs, firefighters and other medical responders during the selection process who already served as part of the COVID-19 response in their civilian roles.

To prepare for the mission, Guard members were trained on physical and medical personal protection, criminal manipulation, emergency procedures, radio use, key control, medical protocol and health care service directives.

While in the correctional facilities, Guard members’ handled medical processing, blood draws and dispensing medicine as prescribed by IDOC doctors and nurses. They also checked temperatures stood ready to perform triage in the event of emergencies.

“What we have seen from Army and Air Guard medics on these missions so far is satisfaction in performing duties they were trained to do and high morale for being part of a global pandemic response,” said Johanningsmeier.

Part of their non-patient time included preparing doctor-prescribed medicine and routine shift reporting. IDOC provided all medical supplies and personal protective equipment in the infirmaries. The Indiana National Guard added a few items, such as protective masks and scrubs, for Soldiers and Airmen for redundancy and their safety.

Teams of four personnel supported each location – Plainfield Correctional Facility, Pendleton Correctional Facility and Westville Correctional Facility.

“This mission will likely run through the end of May, but as it continues to evolve and change, that could extend even further,” said Johanningsmeier.