WILMINGTON — Many local volunteers teamed up to bring free local popup COVID-19 testing Saturday at the Clinton County Engineer’s Office on Fife Avenue in Wilmington.
The Clinton County Health District reported that 278 people were tested.
Forty-two local volunteers were organized by Rev. Tom Stephenson and comprised of members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association as well as Clinton County officials and residents. They were joined by a dozen Ohio National Guardsmen, with the whole operation in concert with the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency as well as Clinton County Health District, the Engineer’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health.
The testing began just after 10 a.m. as vehicles snaked around the facility and onto Fife Avenue. Shortly after testing began, occupants of nine vehicles had been tested with another 73 vehicles in line.
Three vehicles at a time pulled into an Engineer’s Office bay — which kept most of the volunteers warm and dry as drizzle fell outside — and the occupants of each group of three vehicles at a time had their noses swabbed at three stations.
True team spirit
The Clinton County Health District had a positive experience working with the Ohio National Guard (ONG) when, in 2014, Clinton County was selected for the 2014 GuardCare event.
“We knew from that experience that although the ONG brings in many soldiers to provide services, that community support and volunteers were needed for successful implementation of that event,” said Clinton County Health Commissioner Pamela Walker-Bauer.
“When Pastor Tom Stephenson contacted me because he and other local clergy members felt that there was a significant need for no-cost testing, I shared that we would need a lot of help to make that event happen. Pastor Tom said, ‘Tell me what you need and we (Wilmington Area Ministerial Association) will work to find community volunteers’.”
Walker-Bauer said that at their initial planning meeting, as a team they quickly identified that Clinton County EMA Director Thomas Breckel was the perfect individual to be the Incident Commander to lead this testing event providing support to the ONG. Breckel has extensive military experience and had great comfort and confidence fitting within the ONG’s structure.
“County Commissioners Mike McCarty and Brenda Woods played significant roles in the event throughout the day,” said Walker-Bauer. “Commissioner McCarty funneled vehicles into the Engineer’s building while Brenda Woods facilitated the coordination of paperwork and data entry by the community volunteers. The county commissioners also provided funding support to provide lunch for the volunteers.
“Dessie Rogers and Molly Boatman (of the Wilmingotn-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce) led a successful public information campaign using their extensive community contacts and social media skills. Their footprint was felt widely — 278 individuals were tested with 200 from Clinton County” with the other 78 mostly from surrounding counties.
She said Clinton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Col. Brian Prickett made sure that his team provided smooth and efficient traffic control while ensuring the scene was safe for volunteers and the ONG.
She also expressed thanks Clinton County Engineer Jeff Linkous for use of the facilities and to the City of Wilmington for use of the electronic road signage.
The CCHD had needed only one staff member on-site the day of the event — Matt Johannes, its Environmental Health Director, who was the Logistics lead for the event. He was also leader of “Team Clorox” as the CCHD split into two teams — Team Clorox and Team Lysol — “to ensure the continuity of CCHD operations should some of us become ill,” said Walker-Bauer.
“The CCHD work for this event was on the front end for planning, led by our Emergency Response Coordinator, Brittane Dance, and then again on the back side when CCHD disease investigators will be managing the lab data.”
“Our biggest thank you goes to Pastor Tom Stephenson for providing and leading a team of community volunteers,” said Walker-Bauer. “Pastor Tom has even helped facilitate volunteers to provide office support the CCHD over the past couple of weeks, as the CCHD’s staff has needed help as we have battled our own fights with this virus.”
Walker-Bauer added, “This event is a perfect example of what a community can do when it comes together to battle the real enemy — this virus. This testing event provided a perfect opportunity to practice what we will need to continue to fight. This is potentially a perfect blueprint for future mass vaccinations clinics for COVID-19 immunizations.”