How the Ohio National Guard is helping provide support at Dayton Children’s COVID testing site

Getting a COVID-19 test will be quicker for anyone in the region thanks to the assistance of the Ohio Army and Air National Guard.

As part of Task Force Cardinal, members of the Guard are working at various hospitals across the state including five sites from Springfield to Cincinnati.

Across from Dayton Children’s South Campus in Springboro, 20 members of the Army and Air Guard are working to help get people through the drive-through testing station at 3300 W. Tech Road efficiently and quickly, said Capt. Joseph Caplinger of Springfield. A 16-year member of the Ohio Air National Guard, the intelligence officer has been working with hospital staff in the testing process.

Eight guard members are from Springfield and others are from other units, a spokesman said.

He said the guard members are helping out with traffic control, registration, collecting the samples, testing the samples and other tasks needed by the lab technicians and hospital staff.

“The techs have been great to work with,” Caplinger said. “We’re glad to be able to help them and they’re taking great care of us as they can.”

As of Thursday, a physician’s order is no longer necessary to obtain a free PCR test. A person can drive to the enormous warehouse, call a number to register their information, pull into the building to get a nasal swap sample, and leave. The results will be sent to them within 24 to 48 hours. The facility is also the home of a regional lab with state of the art equipment to process the tests.

Last week, the site was doing about 400 tests a day, but with the guard’s help, there are enough people to do as many as 1,000 tests a day at the site which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Caplinger said.

Jennifer Nichols, operations manager at Dayton Children Hospital South, said the guard members trained for two days, adding “the National Guard has been a blessing.”

“We modified our process a month ago to push more people through,” she said. “They’re phenomenal. “I can’t speak highly enough about them.”

Spc. Austin Ashcraft of Ross, and Airman 1st Class Gracie Sheets of North Lewisburg, were among the guard members who have been called up to help the hospital personnel.

“We’ve been the tech’s extra hands,” Ashcraft said.

Sheets said they’re helping out wherever they can.

Both have served in the guard for about two years and are full-time college students who might have to obtain accommodations while they are on duty with the guard. Ashcraft is studying fire science at Cincinnati State, while Sheets is a general arts student at Clark State and will be taking her courses online this term.

Daniel Schouse of Carlisle brought a book to the drive-though testing site because he thought the line would be long.

“It was quick,” he said. “I thought I’d be here for a while.

He came to get a test because his wife had COVID-19 and he was starting to get some symptoms the night before. Schouse, who is vaccinated and boosted, had also had COVID-19 before.

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