N.M. Speeding COVID-19 Tests to Labs for Processing
Lt. Col. Dave Finley
Public Affairs Officer
Socorro Senior Squadron
New Mexico Wing
In just over a month the New Mexico Wing has flown more than 2,700 COVID-19 test samples to laboratories in Albuquerque for processing, transported other medical supplies and provided more than a year’s worth of volunteer labor.
The wing has been providing flights and ground transportation to rapidly transport the samples to the Scientific Laboratory Division of the New Mexico Department of Health and to the TriCore Reference Laboratories, both in Albuquerque. Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the wing is assisting the National Guard, which is supporting the New Mexico Department of Health.
The samples have come from Farmington—in the state’s northwest region, hit hard by COVID-19—and from Las Cruces, Deming and the New Mexico Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences. One flight carried personal protective equipment to Farmington’s fire department, and others have transported 3,000 new test kits from the Department of Health to Las Cruces.
After the New Mexico Department of Health tested the entire staff of the Stampede meat plant in Santa Teresa in early May, CAP transported those samples for processing. The flights began April 24.
Nearly 70 wing members from across the state have participated in planning, supporting and conducting the COVID-19 response efforts.
“We have a very dedicated and professional team of volunteers who have done a great job of doing the many tasks required to maintain an effort like this,” said Col. Annette Peters, New Mexico Wing commander. “They did this with the added complication of adapting to all the precautions required to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.”
So far, the wing has provided more than 2,500 hours of volunteer labor—more than a full work year—–for the COVID-19 mission. Participating members come from Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Santa Fe, Socorro and Taos.
“Being able to help the people of New Mexico through the U.S. Air Force auxiliary is deeply rewarding,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Radliff, reserve advisor to the commander, First Air Force (AFNORTH). “Volunteering is at the heart of American values and we are grateful for the efforts of Civil Air Patrol.”
Acting as a Total Force partner and the Air Force auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.
“We are ready to continue to assist as long as we are needed,” said Lt. Col. John Grassham, the wing’s director of emergency services.