During his visit, Wilson saw how the base is fighting and adapting through COVID-19 to carry out the mission of training and inspiring the future force.
The general toured the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy where all branches are trained to become fire protection specialists for the Department of Defense. Lt. Col. Michael McCourt, 312th Training Squadron commander highlighted the ways the academy is continuing to train in a physical distancing environment.
Within the 312th TRS is Special Instruments Training which includes the 3-D printing lab that has created personal protective equipment for individuals on base to mitigate COVID-19.
Master Sgt. Manuel Campo, 312th TRS flight chief, explained how the SPINSTRA side of the squadron has been printing PPE for different organizations around base, and they are now offering seven day a week access to the lab and students can learn practical skills such as how to make a mask.
During the pandemic students have come up with programs to help incoming students learn about the base and help individuals who may have to be quarantined by making grocery runs or answering questions through a virtual platform.
“The programs that we have in place to take care of Airmen are not just being run by military training leaders,” said Capt. Joseph Nieves, 316th TRS flight commander. “These programs are being run by the students, so we have students taking care of students, and they are running the scheduling side of things as well.”
After touring different training facilities here, the guests toured the student dorms and participated in a simulated telehealth appointment similar to what a student would experience while staying in the dorm.
“With distance learning, even individuals in restriction of movement can start class right away,” said Tech. Sgt. Jezzika Allen, 316th Training Squadron MTL. “If classes were in person, anyone in ROM would have to wait until they were cleared to begin class.”
Additionally, the curriculum for training has been updated, allowing students to complete portions of their classes without needing to be in a classroom.
“We were able to take the unclassified material out of the secured classroom and have it accessible to students,” said Tech Sgt. Josef Haltom, 315th TRS instructor. “The students are now able to use a self-paced program that allows them to study when they need to as long as they meet the deadlines for the class.”
Some of the individuals who spoke to the guests virtually were San Angelo community members who participated during lunch through a virtual teleconference.
“No matter what cool stuff you have, none of it matters, people matter,” Wilson said. “Their spiritual, mental and emotional health – that’s what we focus on.”
Last but not least, Wilson toured the Ross Clinic on base and saw the changes that have been implemented by the 17th Medical Group due to the coronavirus. To abide by social distancing and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the medical group has increased their telehealth appointments to meet needs during the pandemic. The medical facility has also implemented an outdoor screening area so as to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the amount of people potential carriers are exposed to.
“By having our best train, and grow our best, we have the best role models for our young Airmen,” Wilson said. “Only by coming together, can we fight through COVID-19, and Goodfellow (AFB) has shown that they are working together to help each other through this pandemic.”