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A Guard Stands Ready to Help

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced he was activating the state’s National Guard to help the Commonwealth contend with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  The activation indicated an acceleration of resources to help the Bay State combat the outbreak but also had many wondering what type of functions the deployment would address.

According to Governor Baker, up to 2,000 members of the guard will help fulfill state agencies’ requests for “equipment, warehousing, and related duties.”  Municipalities can request their support via the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

In April 2013, while leading the Boston Police Department and its investigation of the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, Ed Davis had the resources of the National Guard at his disposal less than one hour after the first bomb detonated.

Boston Police had to button down a 20 block crime scene in a heavily-congested urban center, and it was immediately apparent the Boston Police Department alone would not be able to cover the territory.

A little more than two hours after the bombs exploded, more than 1,500 National Guard troops were on the ground in Boston, helping to protect a crime scene and assist Boston Police, Massachusetts State Police, and the FBI.  For the first several hours of the investigation, National Guard troops stood guard at an Integrated Command System and helped get the job done.

The military has extensive assets that can assist local municipalities and it will likely be performing the same functions throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.  During the Marathon investigation, the Guard was able to provide helicopters and armored vehicles when the investigation called for that type of support.

Currently, COVID-19 medical staging areas are being set up across the state.  The Guard will be able to help there.  Akin to a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard can immediately supplement a state’s ability to respond effectively to a crisis.  There is no doubt the support will be effective and greatly needed and appreciated in the days ahead.  The Commonwealth is fortunate to have the National Guard at the ready to assist.