104th Medical Group professionals administering COVID-19 tests in community
By Master Sgt. Lindsey Sarah Watson-Kirwin, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 09, 2020
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
In the Air National Guard, Airmen wear federal and state hats. When called upon by their state, they are able to serve the very communities they live in and that many of them grew up in. One group of medical professionals from the 104th Medical Group is getting to do just that.
A group of aerospace medical technicians and a medical administrator from the 104th MDG spent the last week moving throughout Massachusetts administering tests for COVID-19, sometimes at four locations per day.
One member of that team is Senior Airman Austin von Richthofen who enlisted with the 104th MDG in December 2014 as an aerospace medical technician. He is currently working toward his private pilots license.
“Major Jones, Maj. Lafond, and Chief Brown have all been working hard and spear- heading solutions and working non-stop,” said von Richthofen. “They did an excellent job of keeping us safe.”
To prepare for this mission within their community, they spent a week training at Hanscom Air Force Base, learning how to properly administer the test for COVIV-19 and wear the proper personal protective equipment while administering the test. They also trained with the 272nd Chemical Company at Camp Curtis Guild.
“It was nice to see that everyone was an expert in their field,” said von Richthofen. “Everyone did a great job adapting and working together.”
Von Richthofen graduated from Worcester State University in December 2019 with his Bachelors of Science in Public Health, with a minor in Health Education.
“My degree is in public health and this fits in perfectly,” said von Richthofen. “I have learned a lot that I can use later.”
The team will continue to serve their community whether it is traveling to administer COVID-19 tests or back-filling staff at facilities in need of medical staff.
“The most rewarding part is to see how we influence people around the state and even within our hometowns,” said von Richthofen.