By Cotton Puryear Virginia National Guard
STAUNTON, Va., January 26, 2016 — Virginia National Guard soldiers on state active duty have been using Humvees and medium tactical trucks to provide mobility support to help Virginia State Police and local first responders reach residents requiring assistance after a historic snowfall blanketed the state.
Since they began operations Jan. 22, Virginia Guard members have escorted or transported 49 law enforcement, emergency medical and fire rescue personnel to emergency locations as well as transported 26 essential medical and support personnel to their place of work.
Guard members assisted in saving at least two lives in Virginia. They also provided mobility support to citizens and law enforcement personnel for nonemergency situations, transported essential medical supplies, towed fire trucks stuck in the snow and conducted health and welfare checks.
"I think our soldiers are doing a fantastic job across the commonwealth in helping our state and local first responder partners get through the heavy snow to help their fellow Virginians," said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia. "Working so closely with the Virginia State Police and local government emergency response officials under the guidance of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has proven to be very effective."
Some of the significant activities accomplished by soldiers of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team:
-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Waynesboro Fire and Rescue responded along with an ambulance to an emergency call on Afton Mountain, Jan. 24. The resident was located about one mile from the main cleared road, but the ambulance and rescue teams were not able to reach the house. The Guard Humvee with one EMT was able to move through the unplowed road and clear a path for a follow on vehicle to pick up the resident for movement to an air evacuation site.
-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of the Greene County Rescue Squad responded along with an ambulance to an emergency call near Stanardsville, Jan. 23. The ambulance was not able to make it to the residence through the heavy snow, so the EMTs moved to the Humvee to make it the residence where a man was suffering from chest pains. The soldiers helped move the patient to the Humvee, then transferred him into the ambulance for evacuation. During transport, the patient's heart stopped and a soldier assisted with CPR. The patient was revived and successfully airlifted for further medical support.
-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of local civil authorities in Winchester were dispatched Jan. 23 to assist an ambulance stuck in the snow while responding to a high-priority emergency call. Using two medium tactical trucks, the soldiers drove in front of the ambulance to clear a path. Once at the residence, the EMTs were able to provide care, move the patient to the ambulance and then the Guard vehicles lead the ambulance to the cleared road.
-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Augusta County Fire Station No. 6 responded to a vehicle crash Jan. 22, where one of the passengers sustained a severe head injury. One of the soldiers assisted fire and rescue personnel with extracting the passenger from the vehicle and moving them into the ambulance for evacuation.
-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Page County helped clear a path for an ambulance to reach a dialysis patient in need of transport Jan. 23, near Stanley. The Guard was able to clear a path so the rescue squad was able to transport the patient for required treatment.
The Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is providing mission command for the response operations in the field and is working requests from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide support to multiple locations, as well as the Virginia State Police. Soldiers are deployed along the I-81 corridor between Lexington and Winchester, along the Route 29 corridor from Warrenton to Danville, as well as in the areas near Northern Virginia, Richmond, Fredericksburg and Gate City.
More than 400 soldiers from units of the 116th IBCT as well as from the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group and Bowling Green-based 91st Troop Command are on duty providing support.
The Virginia National Guard also has more than 100 soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett, where they are providing mission command, administrative and logistical support for the overall mission.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized up to 500 personnel for state active duty in his initial emergency declaration, and then he increased that to 700.
Delaware Guard Response
The Delaware National Guard activated nearly 300 soldiers and airmen to support the citizens of Delaware through Winter Storm Jonas.
The National Guard leaned forward before the storm, prepositioning operators and tactical vehicles such as Humvees, five-ton trucks and wreckers to each county's emergency operations center. From each EOC, troops and vehicles were dispatched to local fire houses and state and local police departments.
Officially, troops supported nearly 100 missions and 165 individual citizens across Delaware. Missions included transporting medical professionals and first responders to and from work shifts and moving Delawareans to safety from flooding or effects of the snowstorm.
Because of flooding in Sussex County, the Guard helped evacuate approximately 40 residents from the Oak Orchard/Long Neck area to area shelters or homes of friends. In New Castle County, due to the snowfall, the Delaware Guard helped dozens of people who needed emergency medical care or were stranded on the road.
Included in those missions were efforts to recover an ambulance and a fire truck, along with an aerial assessment of the flood damage in Sussex County, which was reported to Gov. Jack Markell and other state officials.
"Even though the Delaware National Guard has troops deployed around the world, we were able to provide the necessary support to our great state," said Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the adjutant general of Delaware.
In addition to helping 165 Delawareans on official missions, soldiers and airmen "unofficially" assisted countless stranded motorists and moved abandoned vehicles for Department of Transportation workers to plow roads and first responders to complete their missions.
Guardsmen Helping Elsewhere
Guard members were activated in other states as well. Their personnel strength numbers as of yesterday:
-- Washington, D.C., about 100;
-- Kentucky, more than 75;
-- Maryland, more than 500;
-- New Jersey, more than 120;
-- Pennsylvania, more than 300; and
-- West Virginia, more than 120.