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Infectious disease expert leads two-day course with Nevada CST

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Emerson Marcus
  • 92nd Civil Support Team

The 92nd Civil Support Team, Nevada National Guard, conducted a two-day health security and intelligence course in Carson City last week with a leading expert on the spread of infectious disease.

Dr. Jim Wilson, CEO and founder of M2 Medical Intelligence, Inc., and the first operations chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Biosurveillance Integration Center, led the presentation and spoke on history and patterns of pandemic spread along with key warning signs and data indicators.

Wilson, a former University of Nevada, Reno research professor who helped with infectious disease spread forecasts during the Ebola outbreak, brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise for the soldiers and airmen of the 92nd, said Lt. Col. John Brownell, CST commander.

“This course served as an important reminder for getting our soldiers and airmen to understand future threats to read through the lines and apply what we’ve been through to what we are currently going through today and in the future,” Brownell said.

Brownell first met Wilson because of their connection to the National Security Forum in Reno and asked if he would brief the 92nd.

“The National Guard has played an integral role in our state and nation’s response to COVID-19, so I felt it was important to speak directly to these soldiers and airmen about myriad factors in the spread of infectious disease,” said Wilson, who was one of the first infectious disease experts in the state to bring light to the emerging coronavirus threat in January this year. “The whole goal was to discuss and learn from how you watch for pandemics and how we translate that information to local preparedness and mitigation response. To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve had this type of course in the National Guard and how we do watch for these types of responses.”

At the end of the two-day presentation, Wilson discussed the current situation in Nevada concerning its COVID-19 response. Wilson explained that the National Guard is an important player in pandemic response, not only because of its support of the state’s COVID-19 testing and warehouse distribution, but also because of its support with data collection and analysis.

“It’s been a great military-civilian partnership, along with a great public-private partnership,” Wilson said. “What we’ve really seen in the end is everyone has come together in a wonderful multi-disciplinary environment to make sure that our state is safe.”

The Nevada National Guard’s 92nd CST provides Nevada’s civilian emergency managers and first responders with trained personnel to respond to natural and man-made situations, including the identification and nature of unknown chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials. The unit, established within the Nevada Guard in 2004 with about 20 trained soldiers and airmen, also also provides weapons of mass destruction, HAZMAT medical and technical advice to local, state and federal partners.