By Andrew Park, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
For the last couple months, thousands of medical personnel from Air Force Reserve Command have been working alongside their military and civilian counterparts in the U.S. Army North-led Joint Forces Land Component Command (JFLCC), which has been assisting state and local governments across the continental United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All four nurses who mobilized from Dobbins returned to the base on May 28, arriving via a Dobbins C-130H3 Hercules as the sun started to set over the flightline.
Maj. Enrika Ross, 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron nursing OIC, is one of these nurses who mobilized to New York City’s Queens Hospital, where she worked as a nurse in the medical-surgical unit.
“At a time such as this pandemic, it is rewarding to give back,” said Ross. “I went into the medical field because my heart has always been geared toward helping to heal people.”
Reservists like Ross bring a unique skillset to the fight as they’re able to bring their combined experience from their military and civilian careers. In Ross’ case, she’s a nurse practitioner at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, when she’s not serving at Dobbins.
“I take my position as nothing but honor because I have always been honored to serve,” said Ross. “I see the walk of Jesus and Florence Nightingale who served with their hearts and soul and not in fear.”
This courage and determination has already brought success as she was fortunate enough to see patients heal and return home to their loved ones, she said.
She also added that she successfully hurdled language barriers while providing care to the diverse population of patients at the center. Many didn’t speak English, which created some initial challenges, but Ross said she remained persistent and worked through them.
“The patient would express their needs to loved ones and the loved ones would relay the need back to me in English,” Ross said. “It aided in better care for the patient in my opinion.”
Fear is a common factor to those fighting on the frontlines of any battle, and the COVID-19 frontlines are no different. Ross was aware of the risks she took in providing healthcare to patients at Queens Hospital, but her determination kept her moving forward in the face of danger.
“Yes, I’m conscientious about my health,” she said. “But at this point, I have a higher role to achieve, so I place my fears aside and help those who need me at this time.”
She brought her passion for helping others to a cross-functional team that formed the whole-of-government response to the pandemic.
U.S. Northern Command serves as the global synchronizer for DoD’s Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease plans. U.S. Army North serves as their JFLCC in support of the national response to COVID-19 when federal military forces are employed in support of the lead federal agency.
U.S. Army North continues to support the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 response while remaining flexible to rapidly respond to changing requirements.