Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Maryland Wing COVID-19 Response Mission Reaches Turning Point

1st Lt Brett Cole – Traffic control COVID-19 response operations (Credit- Col John Knowles)
Cadet Airman Emma Painter – COVID-19 response logistics support (Credit – 1st Lt Jeffrey Robertson)

September 15, 2020 — GRANITE, Md. — Marking the turning point of Civil Air Patrol Maryland Wing (MDWG) support to Montgomery County, Maryland (MoCo) Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) support mission, MDWG transitioned from providing a cadre of over 150 volunteers to having two airmen supporting county operations on August 31, 2020,  The remaining members will function as managers within MoCo’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) COVID-19 related operations.  A large part of the MDWG volunteer force were cadets that have since returned to school.

The undertaking began on March 23, 2020 when Montgomery County authorities called for National Incident Management System – Incident Command System trained personnel to augment its health department staff as COVID-19 escalated into a global pandemic.  In response to this request, three experienced Civil Air Patrol (CAP) officers reported to the MoCo Health Department Operations Center (HDOC) to support planning, operations, and logistics related activities.  Due to escalating operations and manning related requirements, MDWG stepped up its pace in care of assigned tasks and increased its volunteer presence at HDOC supported locations. 

Maryland Wing members served as subject matter augmentees at MoCo’s HDOC.  In this capacity, MDWG airmen supported the planning section and situation unit.  Members were responsible for compiling United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for internal distribution, writing the daily situation report, attending conference calls, monitoring and press conferences and releases; and subsequently distributing relevant updates to mission stakeholders as appropriate.  The planning team also worked on testing expansion including assisting community health partners with setting up internal testing, assisting in running test sites, and assisting the logistics and operations team leaders with community outreach.

In coordination with Montgomery County leaders, MDWG established an internship opportunity for high school and college aged cadets within the county’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  As part of this program, qualified cadets functioned in a dual CAP and DHSS capacity; and committed to serving up to 3 days per week over 4-8 weeks.  As interns, cadets learned emergency management-oriented processes and techniques from CAP Senior Members and DHHS personnel while assisting with personal protective equipment (PPE) deliveries, PPE distribution, warehouse management and additional task as needed.

Maryland Wing also provided vans to support delivery of much needed PPE to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, and other congregate living facilities with intent of containing the spread of COVID-19.  For over three weeks, vans loaded up and departed daily, distributing much-needed supplies.  Civil Air Patrol volunteers not only made the deliveries but also managed logistics operations at the Dennis Avenue Health Center (DAHC) warehouse where the PPE inventory was stockpiled.

Montgomery County made the decision to transfer PPE logistics operation from the DAHC warehouse to the county’s Department of General Services (DGS) in late April 2020.  MDWG airmen assisted with inventory counts, packing, and shipping the PPE to DGS facilities in support of the transfer of responsibility.  As assigned tasks were completed, MDWG subsequently reallocated its personnel to support other COVID-19 response efforts across Montgomery County.  Over the span of the PPE distribution mission over 1.9 million surgical masks, 5.4 million pairs of surgical gloves, 1.5 million isolation gowns, and 1 million N95 respirators, respectively, was distributed with CAP’s assistance. 

Further, Maryland Wing members complimented MoCo DHHS personnel at three COVID-19 testing locations across Montgomery County.  In this capacity teams of six to ten airmen deployed at various testing locations to support traffic control operations at respective locations. Civil Air Patrol National Capital Wing members joined ranks with MDWG in early June 2020 initiating its support to traffic control operations.  Consolidated, over a thousand vehicles passed through these three locations each week without incident.

Civil Air Patrol support to COVID-19 response efforts has brought out the best in its airmen while demonstrating long term commitment and incredible flexibility by CAP professionals.  Maryland Wing airmen have put volunteer service before self while supporting the COVID-19 response mission across Maryland.  Since commencing activities, over 159 members from the MDWG, National Capital Wing, New York Wing, and National Headquarters have contributed over 900 man-days (consolidated) in support of Maryland communities.  Many of the Airmen volunteered multiple days over the mission’s duration.

Maryland Wing would like to recognize the following units and CAP members for their contribution to the overall COVID-19 response efforts:

  • Contributing Wings: Maryland Wing, National Capital Wing, New York Wing, National Headquarters
  • Stand Out Squadrons: Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron, College Park Composite Squadron, Upper Montgomery Composite Squadron, Arlington Composite Squadron
  • DAHC Interns: C/Lt Col Katherine Weinhold, C/Maj Brooke Mengistu, C/1st Lt Caleb Savoie, C/2d Lt Cole Serenyi, C/2d Lt Aiai Calmer, and C/CMSgt Helen Mengistu
  • Senior Support at the DAHC: Col John Knowles, Lt Col Bob Thompson, Maj Rachel Knowles, Maj Teri Knowles
  • Test Site Traffic Control Support: Capt Christophe Marchand, Capt Frederic Roche, Lt David Pape, Lt Tania Abbey, C/Capt Estelle Roche, C/1st Lt Maxence Marchand, C/1st Lt Justin Marchand, C/MSgt Clement Marchand, C/MSgt Jonah Richmond
  • MDWG Staff Support: Lt Col John Henderson, Lt Col Bob Midkiff

Civil Air Patrol has often been referred to as a “family”, but this mission gave new meaning to that expression. This mission consisted of several families really step up and demonstrate the strength of the family.  Amongst them are as follows: Knowles family, Marchand family, Roche family, and Mengistu family

Nearly 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing on Facebook.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, Civil Air Patrol operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 61,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, Civil Air Patrol plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for information. 

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Col John Knowles, NHQ Deputy Chief Plans and Programs

1st Lt Jeffrey Robertson, MDWG Public Affairs Officer

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