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144th Medical Group Detachment Supporting California

The California National Guard’s Senior Airman Mikel Chatelle, 144th Fighter Wing, Army Staff Sgt. Ivan Gallardo, Medical Detachment, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Alice Nitzsche, 144th Fighter Wing, discuss plans on how to organize medical supplies for distribution at the California Emergency Medical Services Authority facility March 20, 2020 in Sacramento, California.

The California National Guard’s Senior Airman Mikel Chatelle, 144th Fighter Wing, Army Staff Sgt. Ivan Gallardo, Medical Detachment, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Alice Nitzsche, 144th Fighter Wing, discuss plans on how to organize medical supplies for distribution at the California Emergency Medical Services Authority facility March 20, 2020 in Sacramento, California. California National Guard units across the state have been activated by Gov. Gavin Newsome to support local and state agencies impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent containment efforts. Cal Guard units will primarily provide support to medical, logistics and other humanitarian efforts. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheldon)

Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. --

Six to twelve hours. That's the amount of time the 144th Medical Detachment 1 has to report, prepare and deploy when an order comes in requiring their support.

The clock started when California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave an order March 13th, requesting a 10-person medical augmentation team to assist the California Emergency Medical Services Authority at a facility in Asilomar State Park in Monterey County, Calif.

At the facility, CAL EMSA and the Medical Strike Team from the 144th MedDet 1 were responsible for providing medical care for the 23 passengers of the Grand Princess Cruise line during a precautionary 14-day quarantine due to the passengers' exposure to the coronavirus on that ship.

That medical care included treating passengers' infections, providing pain management, administering required medications, etc.

The time came when the passengers were medically cleared and released on March 30th. According to Maj. Chance Pasley, a 144th MedDet 1 Medical Plans Officer and the MedST Operations Officer, "It is very rewarding to be able to help our civilian first responders and the folks that were impacted from this novel virus. Seeing all of the passengers being released and how thankful they were that we were there to support them was an amazing feeling."

Maj. Pasley recounts a success story coming from the 14-day quarantine, "We had a 91-year-old great grandmother that was positive [for] COVID-19. At one point she had to be transferred to a local ER. However, she was brought back to us for continued medical support from our team. She made a full recovery and I have no doubt that the [our] team directly made this happen. There was a standing ovation as she walked out of the quarantine area to be transported back home."

To achieve this type of success it could be attributed to the familiarity between CAL EMSA and the 144th MedDet 1. "Prior to this [COVID-19] we drill with [CAL EMSA] regularly," said Lt. Col. Jordan Darnauer, 144th MedDet 1 Commander. "We conduct exercises with them in anticipation for such events as these...it made the integration very seamless and very smooth. We are very familiar with their systems, action plans, how they work through those processes, and it makes it easy for us to actually transition and integrate very quickly to support our partners."

The 144th MedDet 1 is also supporting CAL EMSA, along with the California Office of Emergency Services and California Medical Assistance Team, by providing logistical support in the distribution of medical supplies and equipment from a warehouse in Sacramento.  

"It is our responsibility to resupply and support patient isolation and medical professional safety in the ever increasing evolving missions that are being requested by the counties of California," said Master Sgt. Jason Ramirez, a 144th MedDet 1 Medical Logistics NCOIC. "Since the State of California and CAL EMSA have ordered thousands of units of medical equipment, we have been tasked to validate and inspect, ensure calibration, and build kits to deploy these units to sites throughout California."

Master Sgt. Ramirez and his 10-person logistics support team have validated over $8 million worth of equipment, such as ventilators, infusion pumps and automated external defibrillator monitors.

"We have the expertise in the guard that may not necessarily end the fight of COVID-19, but we have the forces to augment with personnel, equipment, or both to take the stress off of those who can end it." added Master Sgt. Ramirez.