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Air Force medics ‘go mobile’ to continue serving during COVID-19

Medical personnel wearing a mask, looking at a vial Air Force Technical Sgt. Sasha Barker, 90th Ground Combat Training Squadron independent duty medical technician, labels a COVID-19 test at the 90th Medical Respiratory Clinic on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Sokolov, 90th Missile Wing.)

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From running through the plains and hills of Guernsey, Wyoming, trailing the 90th Ground Combat Training Squadron’s warrior Airmen to working in a garage behind F.E. Warren’s medical building gowned and masked, these medics were made to adapt.

“The 90th Medical Group has been phenomenal with using us. As an independent duty medical technician this is what we were designed to do,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christina Pyeatt, 90th GCTS independent duty medical technician. “I was super ecstatic to be able to come over and assist.”

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the 90th Medical Respiratory Clinic was created and designed to focus on patient care and safety. Being a geographically separate unit aided in keeping patients that may have had symptoms out of the main medical facility and away from healthy individuals.

“We don’t want our fighting capabilities to degrade, so our on base testing center is a bit more liberal with who qualifies to be tested,” Pyeatt said.

The process, which was limited to active duty personnel, included a call to the nurse’s hotline, directions to the respiratory clinic and patient testing.

For the protection of the medical personnel and patient, patients remained in their vehicles. Instructions were given through the car window with minimum contact taking place during the actual test.

 “In the back of my mind, there is always the thought of exposure,” said Pyeatt. “We have taken great lengths with our personal protective equipment and how we operate.”

To ensure medical personnel wouldn’t become patients themselves, they wore extensive personal protective equipment (PPE) and limited contact between patients and testers. 

“As medical health professionals, when we take care of patients and contribute to their healthcare and that of their family, it is that selfless service aspect even though we have concerns at the back of our minds,” explained Pyeatt. “It is what we do, it’s what we are made for, it’s what we train for. So we just do it.”

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