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Robins medics continue training to fight COVID-19

Photo shows a woman holding a test in her hand waiting on results.

PERRY, Ga. – A 78th Medical Group Airman from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, awaits the results of her COVID-19 antibodies test July 16, 2020, at the Guardian Centers of Georgia in Perry. The 78th MDG had 60 personnel take part in a pandemic training session to help bolster their skills while utilizing personal protective equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kisha Johnson)

PERRY, Ga. --

Knowledge is power when it comes to battling COVID-19. And for that reason, the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base took part in a viral outbreak response class at the Guardian Centers of Georgia, July 16 in Perry.

Photo shows a man pricking a woman's finger with a needle.
PERRY, Ga. – A training instructor with the Guardian Centers of Georgia in Perry performs a finger prick on a 78th Medical Group Airman to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies July 16, 2020. This was part of a larger pandemic training session at the center for the 78th MDG Airmen to bolster their skills while utilizing personal protective equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kisha Johnson)
Photo shows a man pricking a woman's finger with a needle.
Robins medics continue training to fight COVID-19
PERRY, Ga. – A training instructor with the Guardian Centers of Georgia in Perry performs a finger prick on a 78th Medical Group Airman to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies July 16, 2020. This was part of a larger pandemic training session at the center for the 78th MDG Airmen to bolster their skills while utilizing personal protective equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kisha Johnson)
Photo By: Kisha Johnson
VIRIN: 200716-F-MW167-1987
The purpose of the eight hour training session was to teach essential workers how to stay safe as they work with the public.

Before any instruction got underway, all 60 participants took a COVID-19 antibodies test. The results were available in 10 minutes with 96% accuracy.

“It tests for the (Immunoglobulin M) antibody and (Immunoglobulin G) antibody. During the onset stage of being infected with COVID-19, you have IgM antibodies,” said Kerry O’Connell, a senior training manager at the Guardian Centers.

“Those are the first antibodies that will come into your body,” he added. “Second, the IgG antibodies kick in. So in our test, you are either negative or you have IgM antibodies, which means you are in the beginning phases of being infected.”

According to O’Connell, if the test reveals that both IgM and IgG antibodies are present, the person is in the middle to latter stages of the infection. However, a test result showing only the IgG antibodies means the person had COVID-19 at some point.

Once inside the classrooms, the focus was on personal protective equipment – face masks and shields, gowns, gloves and booties.  These items make up the only armor front line workers have as they face this crisis.

Capt. Mason Niemeyer, 78th MDG dentist, said he welcomed the opportunity to participate. His biggest concern was not endangering his family.

“If you think about the med group as a whole, dental is the most at risk. We are about eight inches away from every patient we see, and every procedure we do involves an aerosol. I have a wife and two-year-old at home, and I want to stay informed,” said Niemeyer.

Centers for Disease Control officials expect a second wave of COVID-19 infections to start spiking in the fall, just as flu season is getting underway.

O’Connell said that does not have to be the case if everyone follows the simple steps to stop the spread of the infection.

“If you have the choice between using hand sanitizer and soap, I definitely recommend using soap to wash your hands,” said O’Connell. “Hand sanitizer when you are on the road is good and crucial, but use soap whenever you can, and absolutely wear a mask. As long as everyone wears a mask, we should be able to slow down the progression of this virus.”