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121 ARW Airman among first in Ohio to provide assisted living facility COVID-19 relief

U.S. Air Force Major Shelley Brackman, 121st Medical Group, stands for a portrait August 24, 2020, at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio. Brackman has led an Ohio National Guard medical relief mission this year in response to COVID-19.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Ralph Branson)

U.S. Air Force Major Shelley Brackman, 121st Medical Group, stands for a portrait August 24, 2020, at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio. Brackman has led an Ohio National Guard medical relief mission this year in response to COVID-19. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Ralph Branson)

Courtesy photo of Major Shelley Brackman, 121st Medical Group, 121st Air Refueling Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, supporting the state's COVID-19 response.

Courtesy photo of Major Shelley Brackman, 121st Medical Group, 121st Air Refueling Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, supporting the state's COVID-19 response.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When every resident and staff member at an assisted living facility in Logan, Ohio, tested positive for COVID-19, members of the Ohio Air National Guard stepped up to help as part of a joint mission with the Army. Maj. Shelley Brackman from the 121st Air Refueling Wing Medical Group led a group of Airmen on this relief mission.

These 20 Guardsmen were the first in the state to respond to a COVID-19 mission by providing direct medical care to patients diagnosed with the virus, said Brackman.

“We needed to be able to provide care within 24 hours, and we got to use the skills that we've acquired to provide care to the community,” she said. “It wasn't a planned mission where we knew beforehand what we were going to do. We just went in and took care of the community and impacted people's lives.”

Brackman, who has been an emergency nurse for 11 years, said the Guardsmen willingly stepped up and entered a new environment to help in any way they could.
“We held people’s hands while they were dying,” she said. We gave them medical care; we had to be advocates for them to get a higher level of care.”

Some Guardsmen with no medical background were onsite to provide meals and clean, but they also provided care by talking with the patients, she said.

“It was amazing to see these young Airmen step up and do something out of their norm,” she said. “It was actually very touching. Hats off to those Airmen because as the medics and the nurses, we signed up for a medical mission. But they did not, and they were amazing.”

The community helped make the transition into this mission an easy one, Brackman said. They provided food and support whenever it was needed.

“You go out and get to touch the community,” she said. “This is what you’ve trained for, and you actually get to put it to use. I don't know if people really knew about this mission, but it was, hands down, an experience of a lifetime.”

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