As medical workers around the state fight to keep people healthy, they will have an army behind them. Literally. Assisting in the fight against COVID-19, the Connecticut National Guard is playing a role, but not in a way you might think.
“When we talk about mobilizing the National Guard, we’re not talking about checkpoints and roadblocks. We’re not talking about enforcing keeping people inside,” said Connecticut National Guard Captain David Pytlik.
Instead, the Guard is supporting the Department of Public Health. Among their top projects is constructing a mobile field hospital in Windsor Locks. The unit is built on trailers much like an army hospital. It is not associated with any particular hospital and could be deployed anywhere in the state.
“There’s two 25-bed systems that can be employed to help increase capabilities at different hospitals and sites around the state should it be needed,” said Pytlik.
Pytlik says it has seen social media updates suggesting the Guard’s involvement could be more security-oriented. They say that is not the case.
“We are not conducting any security operations. There hasn’t been any discussion of that. We’re here for medical and logistical support,” he explained.
Around the state the guard has distributed equipment, including ventilators to hospitals. They say the objective is to keep medical workers supplied.
“We have pushed out personal protective equipment like masks. Forty thousand masks to different ambulance companies and clinics throughout the state,” adds Pytlik.
The Guard is ready to help in this fight. Although, not in typical military fashion.
“This is not war,” said Pytlik. “This is not won with guns and bullets. This is won with social distancing, common sense. Taking care of ourselves and taking care of our families.”
The Guard compares this to the efforts they would normally provide after a natural disaster. Like that, they say, this is about helping the community during a time of need. The objective now is to help the health care system as much as possible.