N.M. Wing Flies COVID-19 Test Kits for State Health Dept.
Lt. Col. Dave Finley
Public Affairs Officer
Socorro Composite Squadron
New Mexico Wing
The New Mexico Wing transported COVID-19 test kits from a meat packing plant in southern New Mexico to the Scientific Laboratory Division of the state Department of Health (in Albuquerque for processing.
One person at the plant has tested positive for the coronavirus, and the Department of Health is testing the entire staff, according to the department’s Dave Daniels. The tests were collected at the plant site in Santa Teresa for each shift, then taken to the Department of Health office in Las Cruces to complete required documentation.
After that, the tests were taken to Las Cruces International Airport, where a New Mexico Wing aircrew flew them to Albuquerque. The flights were conducted May 4 and May 5.
"We really appreciate the help from the Civil Air Patrol, and how quickly you can get these samples to the laboratory," Daniels said.
The rapid testing is being done to provide information needed to keep the plant operating safely.
“In challenging times like these, we’re proud to be able to help the people of New Mexico through our auxiliary Air Forces,” said Maj. Gen. Brian Simpler, Air National Guard assistant to the commander, 1st Air Force (AFNORTH). “With the dedication and expertise of these volunteer citizen airmen, our response would not be as fast or effective.”
Earlier, a CAP flight Friday brought sampled COVID-19 test kits from Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces to the Albuquerque laboratory – a repeat of a task CAP crews had performed a week before.
On Saturday, a CAP crew flew from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to pick up a shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE), then flew that equipment to Farmington, in an area of New Mexico hit hard by the virus. The PPE was destined for the Farmington Fire Department. The same CAP crew then returned to Albuquerque carrying sampled test kits from Farmington for laboratory processing.
The flights, along with transportation by CAP ground crews, are part of an ongoing operation. The National Guard is supporting the state Department of Health, and CAP is assisting the National Guard. The CAP assistance is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
More than 40 CAP members from across the state have participated in planning, supporting and conducting the COVID-19 response efforts.
"Our members train hard to be ready to serve our fellow New Mexicans. We're gratified to see that training, and their efforts, pay off and make a contribution at a time of need," said Lt. Col. John Grassham, the New Mexico Wing's director of emergency services.
Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, 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.