By Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel
| Joint Force Headquarters | March 31, 2020
Members of the 15th civil support team, Vermont National Guard, assist each other in decontamination at a public drive through Covid-19 screening station hosted at Landmark College, Putney, Vt., Mar. 31 2020. These screens are a collaboration amongst local health centers, hospitals and the Vermont Department of Health. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel )
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Short, a survey team member with the 15th civil support team, Vermont National Guard, decontaminates with assistance of team members at a public drive through Covid-19 screening station hosted at Landmark College, Putney, Vt., Mar. 31 2020. These screens are a collaboration amongst local health centers, hospitals and the Vermont Department of Health. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel )
The 15th civil support team, Vermont National Guard, screens local Vermonters who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in a parking lot at Landmark College, Putney Vt., Mar. 31, 2020. These screens are a collaboration amongst local health centers, hospitals and the Vermont Department of Health. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel )
The 15th Civil Support Team (CST) of the Vermont National Guard, under the guidance of the Vermont Department of Health, established a mobile testing site on the grounds of Landmark College in Putney, Vt. Citizens can take advantage of the drive through sampling provided by the 15th CST after receiving a referral from their doctor or through an online survey at https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus.
Every state in the country has a Civil Support Team (CST) to assist their respective state, governor, and local civil authorities at domestic incident sites by identifying biological agents/substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting on requests for additional support. In this instance the 15th CST will only be collecting samples from potential carriers of COVID-19. Samples are then sent off site for testing.
On the fourth day of offering this service to those local to the Putney, Vermont area, Guardsmen and their partners have noticed an influx of local Vermonters taking advantage of the screening services. From Sunday to Monday, the traffic of patients more than doubled at the Landmark College site.
15th CST members who come into contact with those processing through the sampling site take special measures.
“We’re the people that come in contact with the people in the vehicles that are getting tested for COVID-19,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Short. “What you see is our own protection precautions so we don’t contract it or pass it on should there be a positive case here.”
Putney is a somewhat rural area of the state and substantial healthcare facilities with vast resources is a longer commute for Vermonters in this region. This makes this particular location an interesting choice for the Vermont Department of Health and the 15th CST, especially with the recent pandemic.
“This area has been deemed the corridor between Brattleboro, Springfield and Ascutney hospital areas, given the decline in the number of specimens being collected, hence why we’re here,” noted Tarina Cozza, public health nurse supervisor for the Vermont Department of Health.
Leadership for the 15th CST agreed that testing in this area of Vermont is vital.
“It was determined by the Department of Health and other state officials that this area was a good area to have a mobile drive up site, based off the demographics, the geographical location and the outlying health facilities serving this area,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Miles Trudell, 15th CST Commander.
As the current global situation around the COVID-19 crisis intensifies, this unique team finds solace in the support and the spirit of Vermonters who continually emphasize the importance in community throughout the Green Mountain State.
“We’re proud to be a part of the sampling process. It was something that we heard that needed to happen; we have the capability and we’re just happy that everyone listened to what we can do and actually provided the right resources to us to make this all work. Being a part of the solution in trying times is what a CST does,” said Trudell.