Gov. Tom Wolf today recognized the sacrifices made by members of the Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) during recent responses to support severe weather and COVID-19 emergencies in the commonwealth.
“As the second largest National Guard in the country, Pennsylvania is an extremely active Guard that often serves abroad protecting our borders from foreign aggression, but also plays an extremely important role serving domestically,” said Wolf. “The level of commitment by our Guard is only surpassed by the personal sacrifice these men and women make by being away from loved ones and putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others.”
The PNG routinely responds to domestic emergencies, sometimes in other states, but often right here in Pennsylvania. The responsibilities of the PNG during these emergencies include: search and rescue; distribution of food, supplies and equipment; transporting critical health care workers to health care facilities; assisting with evacuating and transporting citizens to shelters; clearing roads of debris; and prepping for post-storm recovery.
Most recently, members of the PNG on the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART) helped to rescue two motorists stranded in rapidly rising water in Berks County during flooding caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. In addition to the rescue, a Pennsylvania Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter and crew members accompanied by PA-HART members helped search for a missing person in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. A total of 100 PNG members responded during Isaias.
The PNG also found itself in a very different kind of domestic emergency in recent months, standing side-by-side with Pennsylvania first responders and health care providers to help keep people safe during COVID-19. While most of Pennsylvania was social distancing during the pandemic, hundreds of PNG members were deployed throughout the commonwealth to help with an array of emergent needs, including nursing home staffing and PPE training; assisting at county testing sites; standing up medical stations; and working at food banks.
“At a time of uncertainty, facing a whole new kind of enemy, the Pennsylvania National Guard lived up to its slogan ‘We live here, we train here, we serve here,’” said Wolf. “Pennsylvania called and without hesitation, the Guard answered, leaving behind family and putting their careers on hold. Thousands of Pennsylvania citizens are healthy and safe thanks to this selfless sacrifice.”