KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Oregon National Guard activated 50 Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing Sept. 1 to support hospitals in the Springfield–Eugene area, with more on standby if additional hospitals request assistance through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
“Oregon hospitals are at maximum capacity, and our communities have asked for help from the National Guard,” said Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd FW vice commander. “Our activation can provide assistance that increases capacity and patient care. While the tasks we are being asked to perform are not direct patient care, this support will free up medical professionals and provide additional beds; that could be lifesaving.”
On Aug. 13, Gov. Kate Brown announced the activation of up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to help hospitals due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.
The Airmen will work in non-clinical roles such as material handling, equipment support, COVID testing support, laundry and custodial services.
“Our Airmen are highly capable, skilled, educated and multifaceted individuals,” noted Lambert. “We are teachers, private business owners, mechanics, students, commercial pilots, executives. We are in the community and we are your neighbors. We are Citizen-Airmen and ready to serve when called.”
The wing is not only supporting this activation request but also continuing with other federal and state missions.
“Right now, Team Kingsley has members serving as hand crews on wildfires. We have liaison officers assigned to fire incident command centers and members manning fire security checkpoints,” said Lambert.
“Our specialties and training for emergency response provide a unique capability to assist our communities. Concurrently, we have our full-time force at Kingsley Field focused on F-15 pilot training and ensuring we provide the future of air superiority to the United States Air Force.”
Lambert says this is key to what makes Team Kingsley uniquely qualified to support this mission.
“Always ready, Always there. That is the National Guard motto, and it is being clearly demonstrated throughout Oregon this year,” he said.
He emphasized that Oregon Guardsmen who have medical careers, are first responders or are qualified to fight wildfires will not be a part of this activation.
“We all understand the burden that this places upon our members and their civilian employers,” added Lambert. “Thank you to all the employers who have National Guard members working for them and support their service.”