Soldiers are used to functioning as small teams, it’s why the role of a squad leader is integral to the success of a unit. In the fight against COVID-19, small team leaders are finding themselves faced with a new mission.
The Soldiers of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Greywolf,” 1st Cavalry Division, have been building and certifying teams responsible for reacting to a positive test for COVID-19 among its ranks. Recently, members of the transportation and clean teams for Co. C, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment conducted a battle drill to certify their teams.
“We need to certify our young leaders on their responsibilities,” Capt. Sean Leary, commander of Co. C, said. “We have assigned an NCO responsibility for Team Transport and Team Clean and this is our opportunity to certify those young leaders and their ability to accomplish their task.”
There are actually four teams in total; Team Trace, Team Transport, Team Clean and Team Comply. Team Trace is made up leaders within the company and battalion and are responsible for tracing the movements of the infected Soldier to identify where hot spot cleaning needs to occur and Soldiers and civilians who may need to be tested due to contact with that area or particular Soldier. Team Transport is responsible for transporting a positive test Soldier to the isolation barracks if they are in another location such as their barracks room or at the hospital. Team Clean is responsible for cleaning every hot zone that we have identified that the infected Soldier has been to. Team Comply ensures not only the teams are certified and conducting their tasks to standard but also ensures that the unit is practicing proper preventive measures to protect the force.
“My job’s important because I don’t want to get another Soldier infected, just as I wouldn’t want one of my loved ones to get infected,” Sgt. Heidi Kircofe, a squad leader with Co. C and team leader for Team Clean, said. “If we do our job right the first time, the risk to our formation is lower. Ultimately, whether I know someone or not, we all wear the same uniform and protecting my brothers and sisters from this enemy is important.”
The certification begins with the unit being notified that a Soldier at the hospital has tested positive and needs to be transported to the isolation barracks. The transportation team is spun up and receives a briefing from the operations sergeant major, who also inspects to make sure they are in the proper protective gear, which includes outer garments such as wet-weather gear, gloves, eye protection and a mask.
The transportation team travels to the hospital and through mobile communications instructs the Soldier to load into the back of the Humvee, ensuring to avoid contact with the team. During this time the unit is coordinating for a room for the Soldier at the isolation barracks. The Soldier is then taken to the isolation barracks.
During this time, Team Trace begins to identify everywhere the Soldier has been recently. They will spin up Team Clean if necessary to clean any hot spots. In this scenario, Team Clean cleans the barracks room of the Soldier.
According to Kiracofe, the standard is a minimum contact time of 10 minutes of the proper cleaning solution applied to all areas including those small enough that a child could fit a pinky.
“The purpose of this certification and making sure they get it right it to protect our Soldiers and protect the force and ensuring they can then become trainers themselves and train other NCOs of Soldiers who join the team,” Leary said. “We never know who will be impacted.”
Each company in the battalion has two transportation teams with two Soldiers per team and two clean teams with 10 Soldiers on each team. Once certified they are then able to train additional Soldiers so that teams can switch out personnel as necessary.