How the Civil Engineer is contributing to the Wing COVID Response

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Scott Newton
  • 21st Civil Engineer Squadron

The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron has been in the mix of the 21st Space Wing’s COVID-19 response from the very beginning.  In order to combat the spread, we immediately went into a minimal manning posture, which entailed rotating shifts and personnel to ensure we had an accurate balance of being able to execute the mission and practice physical distancing.

One of the biggest things we were able to do is help the 21st Medical Group in planning and setting up various activities. Our team provided blueprints to help make the best decision of where to set up their Point of Testing drive thru. This included working with the 21st Security Forces Squadron in developing traffic patterns and delivering a generator to ensure they had the necessary power to run equipment.  To ensure the drive-thru testing center was accessible, we also filled many potholes in the parking lot.

We were also the driving factor in supporting the drive-thru pharmacy that started at the Base Exchange. We carried the load, literally, setting up the barriers that were used to guide drivers through the pharmacy setup. We also erected a tent and some wooden structures to help shield our teammates from the elements and provided heat in the tent.

To help create more physical distance measures, we built and installed plexiglass barriers for various entities across the base, including the pharmacy, commissary and military personnel section. This helped to create a physical barrier between customer and customer representative.

While most of this has been at Peterson Air Force Base, we have also been heavily involved in supporting Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station’s increased Command and Control Operations. Because there are so many different mission partners operating in Cheyenne Mountain, we have stood up an Emergency Operations Center to act as a focal point for all the mission partners to request services. 

To prevent an entire section from being exposed to the same hazard, we broke out and isolated four teams consisting of four different Air Force specialties. These teams have been assigned a specific mission-critical facility and focus exclusively on those facilities. This prevents an entire craft from being quarantined in the event someone is exposed to COVID-19. Instead, the small team would be isolated and replaced with an additional team. We have also maintained a high focus on mission critical facilities instead of the traditional emergency/urgent/routine work order prioritization process. Some areas may see a reduction in services. An example would be during snow removal. With less patrons using the facilities, overflow parking lots have all been moved to the lowest priority for snow removal, instead of being categorized to the facility and mission they serve. 

Our fire emergency services team has also had to develop new procedures to ensure we are able to respond to any emergency that presents itself while ensuring personnel are available to execute that same mission. We have had to implement advanced response procedures by having our 9-1-1 dispatchers screen calls differently with a new checklist that was created to specifically address this new threat. This checklist enables the responding unit to have and don the appropriate protective gear, again, reducing the risk our firefighters expose themselves to. 

We know these are trying times. Your 21st CES is working hard to protect our members.