SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the California National Guard continues its active humanitarian engagements for COVID-19, it’s also setting another precedence with its extended arm: the California State Guard.
Nearly a dozen State Guardsmen are in the coronavirus fight in San Mateo County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area that sparked some of the stringiest public restrictions when COVID-19 initially reacted. There are no Guardsmen amongst this group. They’re strictly state reservists (with medical backgrounds) who want to make a difference.
“This is something different, something historic,” said Cal State Guard’s Col. (CA) Susan Pangelinan, deputy state surgeon. “This is the first time maybe since the Vietnam War the state guard’s getting called up for something like this. In less than 24 hours they got together and are out on mission.”
“It’s something historic because of the short notice,” replied Lt. Col. (CA) Bonnie Davis-Grunseth, commander, State Guard Joint Medical Command. “”We had to get members who were immediately ready to get here.”
Known prior as California State Military Reserve, the State Guard normally augments California’s Army and Air Guard units and serves as a California defense force. United States Code (32 USC 109c) and the California Military and Veteran’s Code (CM&VC 550) classify its use for Army and Air missions, and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s activation of Cal Guard enables the State Guard for the COVID-19 humanitarian assistance.
The 9-member medical team will provide emergency prehospital response. They’ll be on the front line in determining medical cases, even providing patient care. Their hours will include working through the night.
“Low acuity care,” Pangelinan added. “If needed, we’ll be able to provide stabilization and preparation for transport to higher level care.”
The team consists a medical provider, nurse, behavioral health officer, emergency medical technicians and a staff person.
“For California, this is very important,” said Davis-Grunseth. “We’ll be at this in full force. We’re tasked to do what needs to be done. We wear many hats as a service member.”
Cal Guard has approximately 500 Soldiers and Airmen actively providing humanitarian assistance at food banks and medical locations, with that number expected to grow. More than 1,500 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Bay Area.