BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The staff at Baton Rouge General (BRG) said goodbye to more than 100 sailors Friday, May 29 with a true Louisiana sendoff: a second line parade.
“It was awesome. I think I didn’t realize how exciting it was going to be to hear that band starting up,” said Nadine Barksdale.
Barksdale is just one of the 104 sailors who has been at BRG since mid-April helping in response to the coronavirus.
“I am a family medicine physician,” said Barksdale.
“They had beds, but they needed staff to provide staffing for those beds to provide care,” said Navy Capt. Kevin Brown.
That’s why the federal government sent in assistance, but responding to the coronavirus was different. The country is broken up into ten different regions for FEMA. When there’s a natural disaster, one or two regions may be activated and need help.
“This is something we have trained for and never did we ever think that actually the ten FEMA regions across the entire country could be activated at the same time,” said Army Lt. General Laura Richardson.
“We were sitting there with the highest growth rate anywhere in the country,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
The 104 men and women were deployed to New Orleans in early April and then directed to the capital city. They’re all medical professionals: doctors, nurse practitioners, and more.
“This was really a special mission for us. It was different in many ways in that we usually deployed overseas rather than in the states,” said Brown.
“In medicine, we do different types of negative pressure, highly infectious types of things, but never on this scale, so this may be a once in a month or once every two or three times a month where you are wearing PPE, but certainly not to this degree,” said Barksdale.
But thanks to the sailors, BRG was able to expand its services and actually use all its beds.
“We volunteer to essentially leave the security of our homes in times of crisis and go into harm’s way and to save lives, American lives, and that’s what we did here,” said Brown.
That’s why they deserve a hero’s sendoff and what better way than a second line parade to show our appreciation? With their handkerchiefs in hand, they danced their way out of BRG six weeks later, for some, a brand new experience and for Barksdale, a New Orleans native who has since moved, the second line is second nature.
“It just got really exciting for me really quickly, kind of a true close out,” said Barksdale.
The entire group is from Jacksonville, Fla. They’re hoping to see their families within the next seven days and enjoy some time with them before they have to deploy to their next assignment.
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