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NEWS | April 17, 2020

NC National Guard embeds with emergency COVID-19 management

By Staff Sgt. Mary Junell North Carolina National Guard

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) embedded more liaison officers in North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) offices across the state April 13 to help respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

It has been weeks since many Americans began working from home, schooling from home, and just simply staying home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While people retreat to their homes, hundreds of members of the North Carolina National Guard, including the embedded liaisons, have answered the call to support their state.

“When the rest of the nation is stepping back and holding up, we’re the ones stepping forward,” said Master Sgt. James Storms, the liaison officer at the NCEM Eastern Branch office. “That’s a personality trait that is in most of your Soldiers and that attitude rolls over into responses like this.”

Liaison officers like Storms are an integral part of the NCEM teams, providing a direct line to access the capabilities the NCNG can provide, including the Guard members themselves who are serving in the same communities where they live.

“As Guardsmen we’re Citizen-Soldiers, so we have a stake in what goes on in our own communities,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Webb, a liaison officer at one of the NCEM branch offices in Central North Carolina. “We bring our civilian skill sets into a military environment and skill set. That ... plays a tremendous part in our success.”

The Guard and NCEM have been working together for years, helping the COVID-19 response run a little smoother.

“You don’t want to have to make those introductions during the middle of an event,” Storms said. “We built that partnership, and it is truly a partnership. There are assets that they have that we don’t have access to and vice versa. it works as a team, it really does.”

Dianne Cutis, the eastern branch manager for NCEM, said that although the event is unprecedented, working with the NCNG in hazardous environments is not.

“Having a partnership with the National Guard means we can tackle anything,” Curtis said. “The planning is basically the same; we have an issue, we apply a solution. The partnership we’ve already built with them years and years over the hurricane seasons and the other events have made us a solid effective unit.”