AEDC Crew Member Has a Position in New Mexico COVID Response> Aerial Training & Coaching Command> Merchandise Show
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, NM –
A member of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex team was among the hundreds who ensured hundreds of thousands had access to protective equipment and vital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For nearly two months, Ryan Black, manager of the acquisition program at 704th Test Group, a unit of AEDC based at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, was tasked with supplying food, water and personal protective equipment (PPE) facilitate New Mexico residents.
Through his service in the New Mexico National Guard, Black was introduced to the daunting task. Schwarz is a member of the 150th Special Operations Wing, a New Mexico Air National Guard unit based at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The New Mexico National Guard was activated by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to conduct a statewide COVID-19 response after federal funding was approved for the assistance.
Schwarz commanded the Guard in May 2020, about two months after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. For the next 55 days he was one of the people in charge of the Joint Operations Center. There were about 20 guardsmen in the JOC covering three different shifts. There were also several hundred guardsmen assigned to various locations across the state.
“We have worked with numerous federal and state employees to ensure that PPE, food and water are available for those who need them,” said Black.
Black said the provision of the resources is important and his involvement in ensuring their provision is personally rewarding.
“Many New Mexico residents, especially those in rural areas, still live without access to amenities that many of us take for granted. In some cases there is also a lack of medical care, ”he said. “Many of the PPE, food, and water shipments went to these people. The provision of masks, thermometers, test kits, and food and water has been very well received and I believe they have saved many lives.
“We also had a large guard who focused on cleaning high risk facilities like nursing homes and medical clinics. I’ve joined the guard doing things like that, and I know my fellow guardsmen feel the same way. “
The items were delivered to a collection point in Albuquerque by helicopter and truck. Food, water, and PPE were deployed in cities across New Mexico from this location as the need emerged.
After receiving information about where items were needed, the JOC coordinated with the New Mexico Emergency Operations Center before reaching out to contacts at the final location to coordinate the details of the pickup and drop-off.
By the time Black placed orders in late June, the New Mexico guard had been distributing over 4 million PPE items, 10,000 gallons of water, and 2,000 tons of food.
Schwarz mentioned another outstanding number. By the end of June, the New Mexico National Guard had completed more than 2,000 distribution missions across the state.
“This has been a successful effort,” said Black. “We closed a gap and provided the necessary support. Many of my fellow guardsmen have put their own health at risk by cleaning infected facilities and delivering PPE and test kits to areas in need. “
Although the mission is nearing completion, it is still ongoing and many Guardsmen remain on orders, which means the number of PPE items, gallons of water and the amount of food distributed by the National Guard has only been reported since Black’s last mission have risen.
Black described the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as an “unprecedented situation”. Lessons were learned throughout the process, and Black said that all parties involved are committed to the successful completion of the mission.
“This was a huge operation where the Air and Army National Guards came together to meet the needs of the residents of New Mexico,” he said. “I am proud to have made a small contribution to our success.”