JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Fourteen months ago, the 87th Medical Group set up an outdoor testing site as a way to promote health and safety around JB MDL. As COVID-19 cases are now declining, the 87th Medical Group ended outdoor COVID-19 testing on June 10th, 2021.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Jarnot, 87th Medical Support Squadron commander, recalls the first time he heard about the pandemic and how he and the medical group handled the emergency situation.
“Pandemic response is something that we are trained to do. While we had the basis of plans together, we had never really executed to the scope and scale that the real world presented us with,” said Jarnot. “As COVID-19 started to emerge, 87th MDG had to come up with a solution to keep the Joint Base MDL community safe and secure.”
Jarnot stated that he and his team were able to work with 87th Civil Engineering Squadron and 421st Combat Training Squadron Expeditionary Center on setting up a test site for COVID-19, that was located outside the 87th MDG building. The test site consisted of two Californian and Alaskan tents, equipped with a power generator, electricity, lighting, HVAC, porta-potties, guard facilities, and traffic control. With a team of 40 members, working a combination of 67,000 man hours, the 87th MDG provided over 17,000 COVID tests and 100,000 prescriptions to patients, with curbside service throughout the duration of the pandemic operations.
“Work has been hectic throughout these 14 months but my team and I were really thankful that we had the tools and resources to complete our mission,” stated Jarnot.
Although outdoor testing is ending, people can still receive COVID-19 testing inside the 87th MDG facility.
“We will continue to do COVID testing for TRICARE beneficiaries and DOD civilians at our facility,” said Jarnot. “Also, any symptomatic person is allowed to go to sick-call or schedule an appointment with his or her Primary Care Manager (PCM).”
To facilitate the tent teardown, Airmen from the 87th CES were dispatched to remove all equipment from the test site. U.S. Air Force SSgt. Cory Miesel, 87th Civil Engineering Squadron structure superviso
r detailed his experience maintaining the equipment at the test site, during the 14 month period.
“Throughout these 14 months, my team erected and maintained the tents, and other equipment at the testing site, making sure that 87th MDG was able to complete its mission tasks successfully,” said Miesel. “It has been stressful and rewarding at the same time. Dealing with this pandemic has proved to be a unique learning experience for our team at 87th CES.”
The CES and MDG collaboration demonstrates the JB MDL community’s ability to come together to get through tough times.