KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. – Fifty Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing were activated Sept. 1, to assist with the logistical support of hospitals in the Springfield—Eugene area, with more on standby if additional hospitals request assistance through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
“Oregon hospitals are at maximum capacity and our communities have asked for help from the National Guard,” said Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd FW vice commander. “Our activation can provide assistance that increases capacity and patient care. While the tasks we are being asked to perform are not direct patient care, this support will free up medical professionals and provide additional beds; that could be lifesaving.”
Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the activation of up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to help Oregon hospitals with support functions due to a reported increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, Aug. 13.
The Airmen will work in non-clinical roles such as material handling, equipment support, COVID testing support, laundry and custodial services and other necessary activities to assist hospital operations.
“Our Airmen are highly capable, skilled, educated, and multifaceted individuals,” noted Lambert. “We are teachers, private business owners, mechanics, students, commercial pilots, executives; we are in the community and we are your neighbors. We are citizen Airmen and ready to serve when called.”
Airmen were tasked from career fields across the entire base including maintenance, medical, logistics, communications, as well as public affairs. The wing is not only supporting this activation request, but they are also continuing with their other Federal and State missions at this time.
“Right now Team Kingsley has members serving as hand crews on wildfires, we have liaison officers assigned to fire incident command centers and members manning fire security checkpoints,” said Lambert. “Our specialties and training for emergency response provide a unique capability to assist our communities. Concurrently we have our full-time force at Kingsley Field focused on F-15 pilot training and ensuring we provide the future of Air Superiority to the United States Air Force.”
Lambert says this is key to what makes Team Kingsley uniquely qualified to support this mission. “Always ready… Always there; that is the National Guard motto and it is being clearly demonstrated throughout Oregon this year,” he said.
He also highlighted that Oregon Guardsmen who have medical careers as well as first responders will not be a part of this activation. This is also true for those qualified for fighting wildfires.
“We all understand the burden that this places upon our members and their civilian employers,” added Lambert. “Thank you to all the employers who have National Guard members working for them and support their service.”