Two members of the Montana Army National Guard are currently working alongside staff at Dahl Memorial Healthcare. Private Drake and Staff Sergeant Thomson arrived in Ekalaka earlier this week. Thomson said that they are currently scheduled to assist at the hospital until Nov. 23, although it could end up being longer.
With coronavirus numbers high in the community, numbers are also high for staff and residents at Dahl. With several staff members missing work due to the virus, Dahl administrator Ryan Tooke put in a call to Montana Disaster & Emergency Services. Private Drake and Staff Sergeant Thomson were sent to work alongside staff everyday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thomson said that their tasks at the facility range from answering phones to cleaning, disinfecting and any basic housekeeping duties. Thomson also said that they are working with staff to restock personal protective equipment and other supplies the hospital needs.
Drake and Thomson are based out of Fort Harrison, three miles west of Helena. Thomson said that they have a warehouse there that houses supplies for hospitals. During the pandemic, the Montana National Guard has also set up sites around the state where they have administered coronavirus tests and sent the results off to the state lab. Thomson has previously spent time working on reservations to supply food to elderly and needy people that are quarantined and aren’t able to get food for themselves - a mission he says is ongoing in conjunction with local disaster and emergency services divisions.
“We’re just doing what the National Guard was intended to do,” Thomson said. “Helping fellow state citizens and responding to a major problem.”
Thomson says he had never heard of Ekalaka prior to this mission, but believes that local residents are doing everything they can to contain the virus.
“It seems everybody here is doing their part the best they can,” he said.