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Faculty On The Front Lines of COVID-19

Image of David Fifer at Lackland Air Force base.

As COVID-19 first emerged in early 2020, faculty member David Fifer went through the familiar ritual of packing his duffel bag, preparing his uniform, and dusting off his boots in anticipation of federal orders to deploy and help combat the virus. Soon enough, he found himself on a plane to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to do just that.

Fifer isn't in the military, though. Rather, he's a member of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), a component of the federal government that joins together the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs hospital system, and Department of Health and Human Services to mobilize medical resources in response to major disasters and national security threats. When he's not teaching in our classrooms as an Assistant Professor or responding to injuries in the Red River Gorge as a wilderness Paramedic, he deploys as an Emergency Management Specialist on the NDMS Incident Management Team (IMT). His job is to help coordinate the federal government's response to large scale health and medical emergencies as an operations officer.

At Lackland, he served as the Deputy Operations Section Chief for the federal government's mission to care for hundreds of Americans repatriated from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, who were exposed to the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus. He subsequently deployed again in March to Washington, DC, where he served as the Operations Section Chief on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National IMT. In that assignment, he helped coordinate mass quarantine and isolation operations, establish alternate care sites for confirmed COVID-19 patients, and plan aeromedical evacuations of individuals ill from the virus throughout the country.

Prior NDMS deployments have taken Fifer to Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, Washington state, and numerous national special security events. He has taught in the EKU Paramedic Degree Program since 2015, and was named Program Coordinator in 2019.

Published on April 13, 2020

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