Indiana National Guard soldiers and airmen provided necessary medical support to the Indiana Department of Correction 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, healthcare specialist, or air force specialty code 4N, aerospace medical service specialist.
The Indiana National Guard leadership took sensitive consideration to EMTs, firefighters and other medical responders during the selection process who already served as part of the COVID-19 response in their civilian roles. Many of the personnel selected for this mission possess the military training and up-to-date qualifications for medical response, but their civilian careers differed from their military specialty and gave them more flexibility to answer the call.
To prepare the personnel, IDOC staff provided training on April 25-26, for 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, Hoosier Guard members' responsibilities included medical processing operations, performing blood draws and dispensing medicine as prescribed by IDOC doctors and nurses. They also assisted with obtaining vitals and stood ready to perform triage in the event of emergencies within the facility clinic such as seizures or wounds.
"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 to the packing list, such as protective masks and scrubs, for these 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.