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NEWS | April 10, 2020

Indiana National Guard, local hospital train together in COVID-19 response

By Cpl. Hannah Clifton Indiana National Guard

Indiana National Guard soldiers and Ascension St. Vincent medical professionals conducted training rehearsals at the Ascension St. Vincent Hospital on April 9, 2020 to develop interagency pandemic responses.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Ascension St. Vincent and the Indiana National Guard worked together to create standard operating procedures using military resources for transporting stable patients requiring minimal care to nearby medical facilities. This training helped create a plan to prevent exhaustion of a hospital’s resources in the event of a patient surge and will become a model for similar trainings across the state

“We’re honored to take the lead on the fully integrated effort among all health systems and the state government to prepare for a potential surge,” said Jonathan Nalli, senior vice president, Ascension, and ministry market executive, Ascension Indiana

The exercise began with a communication and transportation rehearsal along with patient preparation. Next, soldiers and medical personnel practiced transferring patients from hospital beds to transport stretchers that were then loaded into the back of military and government vehicles. No actual patients were involved in the exercise.

“Today was a great opportunity to walk through all aspects of the  patient transportation process and determine what would be most expeditious and safe,” Jane Whinnery, vice president of trauma and emergency transportation services at Ascension St. Vincent.

The project’s initial proposal was on Tuesday. Within 48 hours all participants developed, coordinated and began training on the new emergency procedures.

“COVID-19 has definitely taught us new lessons. We have to be acutely aware of a potential  surge, and we must have plans to accommodate that,” said Whinnery.

Interagency response training with organizations like Ascension St. Vincent demonstrated one of many ways the Indiana National Guard serves the community during domestic emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As National Guard members, we are here to serve our communities, so this training is exactly that,” 2nd Lt. Ryan Ball, evacuation platoon leader for Company C, 113th Brigade Support Battalion. “It feels right working with them, developing these operating procedures, and letting them know that we are here to support the community.”

Appreciation for the training and the National Guard’s capabilities was mutually felt between both agencies.

“Ascension St. Vincent is very honored to have had this opportunity,” said Whinnery of the training with Indiana’s citizen soldiers. “This has really highlighted how the National Guard is an integral part of surge planning across the state.”

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