COLUMBUS, Ohio --
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Strategic National Stockpile provides personal protective equipment, medicine and supplies to supplement state and local medical inventories during public health emergencies. This has been crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since last spring, Ohio National Guard Airmen and Soldiers have been working alongside Ohio Department of Health personnel at the State of Ohio’s Receive, Store and Stage (RSS) warehouse to distribute this equipment statewide during COVID-19 relief efforts.
“We distribute personal protective equipment to nursing homes, hospitals and schools to keep them safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senior Airman Briana Staples, a material management journeyman assigned to the 123rd Air Control Squadron, based in Springfield, Ohio.
The Ohio National Guard members and their civilian partners work together to receive shipments; store, package and ship items; and maintain an accurate inventory.
“We start the day with picking out the products (that are requisitioned) and getting them shipped out,” Staples said. “Usually we do outbound and inbound so we’re loading and unloading the trucks. We do inventory, update the warehouse and things like that.”
In a warehouse environment, having assigned roles and working together as a team promotes efficiency and enables the mission to be completed.
“Everyone is doing something different but we’re working together as a team,” said Ohio Army National Guard Pfc. Nyarai Chayambuka, an equipment repairer assigned to the 211th Maintenance Company in Newark, Ohio. “Some people are assigned to picking, some teams do outbound, some people do inventory.”
This mission has provided crucial supplies to communities across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s definitely been a rewarding experience,” Staples said. “Knowing that what I’m doing is making an impact on people who live down the street from me and people who live in a different city than me, it feels good.”
While serving their communities and state during a critical time, the personnel have been able to work in a joint environment and learn different techniques and best practices.
“This is my first time working with the Army and seeing how they run things differently,” Staples said. “Working jointly has allowed us to take each other’s advice and find that middle ground. Just learning how to work together and be more versatile with different types of people has definitely helped me (personally).”
Chayambuka agrees that the mission has helped all of them grow as individuals.
“Working with different people, working with different personalities, and having to be a team and get something done that has been my biggest takeaway from this experience,” Chayambuka said. “I’ve learned how to be a better team player.”
Through helping others and making an impact on their community, the Guard members supporting the mission have developed skills that they can use to enhance their civilian careers.
“I just graduated (from college) in May so I’m looking for jobs,” said Spc. Ian Roth, a computer detection systems repairer assigned to the 211th Maintenance Company. “I graduated with a marketing degree so I’m trying to use the logistic skills that I’ve learned here to promote myself when applying to business jobs.”
Throughout the PPE distribution mission, Guard members have been able to serve their community and provide crucial COVID-19 relief support. Their hard work and dedication has not only made an impact on their communities, but it has made a lasting impact on their lives as they’ve been able to learn from each other, grow as individuals, and gain valuable experience — all while serving their fellow Ohioans.