Ready to serve: Delaware National Guard assists in virus response

A Delaware National Guard team led by the medical staff from Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Christiana Care and St. Francis Healthcare formed a new 38 bed field hospital recently at A.I. DuPont Hospital. Submitted photo/U.S. Army National Guard

SMYRNA — They stand at the ready, but ready for what and for how long?

The Delaware National Guard has faced debilitating snowstorms and hurricane effects while protecting the state.

Those natural disasters dissipated in relatively short order, albeit with severe consequences in the aftermath.

There’s no end in sight to COVID-19’s destructive grip on the world, no guaranteed peak and merciful decline.

“I’ve been a member for 34 years and never seen anything like this,” Air National Guard Lieutenant Col. Timothy Hoyle said on Friday.
“It’s like having 54 major hurricanes or snow events happening in all states and territories at the same time.”

Dover resident Capt. Corissa Gott said she joined the Delaware National Guard seven years ago to “become a better person, help my community and state and get out of my comfort zone and work alongside people with the same focus and mission.”

Now, she said, “we’re watching the news change and seeing what’s changing while not really knowing how it will affect the future.
“We’re really living in the now at this point.”

Capt. Brian Peterman, a New Castle County Police Department officer who lives in Felton, said there’s an uncertainty due to constantly “looking at a changing target as to when it will plateau and eventually drop.”

National Guard members from Delaware, Washington, D.C. and Maryland load an Army Medium Tactical Vehicle with ventilators for multiple state missions. Submitted photo/Delaware National Guard

On Tuesday, DNG citizen airmen and soldiers assisted medical personnel in establishing a 38-bed field hospital at Wilmington’s A.I. DuPont Hospital. The alternate care facility is positioned to take in non-coronavirus patients if the hospital overflows.

Sixteen DNG members trained at the mobile hospital to assist as nurses, medical technicians and in an administrative roles. Planning for other potential sites continues, Lt. Col. Hoyle said.

The DNG works within the Delaware Emergency Management Agency’s Joint Operations Center while readying to provide resources when called upon. The Army Corps of Engineers is part of the alternate care site planning.

There’s at least some insight from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Public Health and epidemiologists, Lt. Col. Hoyle said.

“We’re considering options throughout the state and planning for every possible scenario and logistical need,” Lt. Col. Hoyle said of the ongoing mission analysis.

On Tuesday, DEMA announced plans for a mobile hospital to support Kent and Sussex counties in case of a patient surge. Bayhealth, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, and Beebe Healthcare are coordinating their surge plans with county and state officials, DEMA said.

On Monday and Wednesday, DNG members delivered meals for the Middletown-area Appoquinimink School District.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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