By Maj. William Carraway
| Georgia National Guard | April 3, 2020
Col. John Till, safety officer for the Georgia Department of Defense, briefs an infection-control team of Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers from the Marietta-based 201st Regional Support Group and Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, March 31, 2020. The team will disinfect nursing homes to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Maj. William Carraway)
Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Cordele-based Company C, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, disinfect common areas in a long-term care facility in Dawson, Ga., April 2, 2020. (Photo by 2nd Lt. George Peagler)
MARIETTA, Ga. – The Georgia National Guard is sending infection-control teams to nursing homes around the state to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
"Our mission is to assist in disinfecting nursing homes," said Col. John Till, safety officer for the Georgia Department of Defense, who is training the teams. "We are going to help decontaminate and disinfect rooms in which these citizens are quarantined to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."
Long-term care residents are vulnerable to illnesses that can be caused or exacerbated by COVID-19. The Georgia Department of Public Health says the number of cases in these facilities grows daily. Among the precautions advised by the health department is frequent cleaning with disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Till and members of his team use a disinfectant process that incorporates a solution approved by the EPA, following protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health department. Till said his team has used the process to safely disinfect five buildings and more than 150 rooms at Georgia Guard facilities.
"We are able to scale a number of teams as the demand requires," he said. "We will start with two teams who will then train all the teams that follow."
The infection control teams are the latest example of innovation by Georgia National Guard leaders and planners. These teams did not exist a week ago. They follow in the footsteps of the Georgia National Guard's medical assistance teams (MATS), which are embedded at hospitals across Georgia. The MATs, composed of Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with backgrounds in medicine and health, were created and employed the past two weeks.
"The Georgia National Guard stands ready to assist any long-term care facility in this time of need through staff training and implementation of infectious disease control measures," said Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard. "Our training has prepared us to fight this virus, and we are eager to lend a hand in this battle."
More than 600 service members of the Georgia Department of Defense are supporting coronavirus response missions across the state. The Soldiers, Airmen and State Defense Force volunteers are supporting MATs, food bank operations, isolation facilities and staffing the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's state operations center in Atlanta.
The Georgia National Guard expects to send additional teams to nursing homes in south and northwest Georgia while continuing to work with state government and public and private institutions to save lives and alleviate suffering.