PHOTO BY MAJ. VANCE TRENKEL
416th THEATER ENGINEER COMMAND Answering the call to serve during COVID-19 pandemic
Lt. Col. Edwin Sherman, with the Contingency Response Unit, provides operational support to the USACE Fusion Cell. As a staff augmentee, he is one of several staff members to coordinate and track all actions dealing with the alternate care facilities and assessments across the nine USACE divisions.
BY MAJ. KHOR AN LEE, 416th Theater Engineer Command
oldiers of the 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) answered a nationwide call to serve during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. With time being an important factor, these service members took part in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) critical response effort to build stronger medical infrastructure across America. In March, as COVID-19 continued to spread across the states and national and local governments began to implement mitigation plans to reduce the outbreak, USACE sent up the request. They reached out to Army Reserve liaisons for additional staff support and 29 Soldiers from the 416th TEC mobilized across seven USACE districts. USACE’s response plan went into effect to assess and construct alternate care facilities (ACFs), which are facilities temporarily converted for health care use during a public emergency to reduce the burden on hospitals and established medical facilities. USACE and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services compiled the materials to support states
and municipalities in creating ACF sites to support their medical requirements during the pandemic. In Washington, D.C., at USACE Headquarters, members of the TEC’s Contingency Response Unit (CRU) mobilized with a mission to provide rapid, scalable, and expeditionary response. They augmented the USACE Operations Center (UOC). Capt. David Rey supported operations by providing daily briefs to the chief of engineers. The UOC monitored the national response and received updates from each of the divisions, which centered around the construction of the ACFs and deployed personnel. “Additionally, we track, on an individual level, all of USACE’s COVID infected or suspected infected,” said Rey. “The Corps of Engineers was ahead of the interagency and federal government response in being prepared with a plan in the event they were called forward to assist. I got a call on a Thursday, and the very next day I was in the office. About a week later, we started implementing this alternate care facility plan. I think because of our scope of work, our capability, and ability to respond to national disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires,