MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
Airmen returned to base for the first unit training assembly in two months after regularly-scheduled training events were cancelled in April and May because of COVID-19 precautions.
Airmen are using telework, staggered schedules, homemade masks, social distancing, and plexi-glass barriers to defend themselves from the virus.
Col. Marty Timko, 167th Airlift Wing Commander decided to resume unit training assemblies through the use of the many safety precautions.
“While the pandemic has changed many daily activities all around us, our readiness and commitment to the mission remains the same as we serve both state and the nation. Allowing more of our members access to the base to conduct readiness requirements and training has been done in a methodical way to lower the risk and expand our daily operations,” said Timko.
As part of that methodology, temperature checks and a quick health assessment at the gate have now become routine procedure. In addition, the 167th Medical Group offered COVID-19 swab tests to Airmen all four days and will continue to offer them through the summer.
More than 250 tests were administered over June drill. The 167th Medical Group was receiving results from those tests within 24 hours.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct our day-to-day operations, however the wing is still accomplishing our medical mission requirements,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Cooper, 167th Medical Group noncommissioned officer in charge of public health.
The 167th Operations Group is also accomplishing aircrew training and mission requirements. The June UTA provided an opportunity for some aircrew to resume their simulator training.
Capt. Kevin Rudisill, 167th operations group aircrew scheduler and C-17 pilot said extra steps were necessary to resume training in the simulator.
“In order to maintain our operational readiness and our currency and crew qualifications we followed the CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines for cleanliness and reopened the simulator, working with the [simulator] staff to have the safest way to train our aircrews,” said Rudisill.
Safety was also a priority in the planning of large group gatherings which utilized chair spacing, plastic barriers, and online meeting forums to facilitate ceremonies, drug testing, discussions, and meetings.
Several recognition events took place with limited audience size for social distancing requirements. To adapt, the public affairs office live-streamed the events so Airmen could participate, whether they were on base or working from home.
“Our office took the challenges presented by COVID-19 and adapted to best serve our wing,” said chief of public affairs Capt. Stacy Gault. “The live-stream also presented a new training opportunity for my team and I hope every function is looking for the silver linings in our adapted operations.”