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News | April 3, 2020

Delaware Guard Airman uses civilian expertise in COVID-19 planning efforts

By Mitch Topal

Citizen Airman, 1st Lieutenant Tyrell Hargrove, spends 28 days a month working as a critical care nurse at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. During his “drill weekends”, he is assigned to the 166th Medical Group.

Early in Delaware’s fight in the COVID-19 crisis, he was called to State Active Duty to serve as a Medical Liaison Officer between the Delaware National Guard, Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. His mission during the crisis: he is one of only three DNG members of the Medical Surge Task Force charged with performing site surveys of potential ad hoc facilities that could serve as acute care centers for non-COVID-19 infected patients. When the expected surge of critically ill COVID-19 cases overwhelms the state’s hospitals, these facilities could provide safe places for the treatment of non-critical, acute care patients and will serve to take some of the burden off Delaware’s critical care facilities.

Coupled with the USACE’s construction capacity and DEMA’s emergency management facility, Lieutenant Hargrove’s insights enable him to assess the medical feasibility of turning a warehouse, conference space or even a gymnasium into an acute care facility. The task force is looking to open facilities in all three Delaware counties.

“It makes my life fulfilling to help people in either a military capacity with the Delaware National Guard, or in my regular career as a critical care nurse helping our veterans,” said Hargrove.

The team’s mission, in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Delaware, is part of the nation’s federal, state and local efforts to respond to the public health emergency. In addition to Hargrove, Delaware’s Citizen Guardsmen supporting team members include U.S. Army Lt. Col. Timothy Drake, Capt. Chelsea Schellinger, and Capt. Joseph Kupina.