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307th Bomb Wing Airman makes second pandemic deployment

Airmen wearing masks pose for a photo

U.S. Air Force Capt. Aaron Bigio, 307th Medical Squadron registered nurse, poses for a photo with other Reserve Citizen Airman during a recent deployment to San Antonio, Texas. The Reserve Citizen Airmen were there to help with COVID-19 testing. It was Bigio's second time to deploy in support of efforts to fight the pandemic. (courtesy photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

When Capt. Aaron Bigio returned from San Antonio, Texas last month; it marked the second time he’d volunteered to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic during the previous 18 months.

The 307th Medical Squadron registered nurse had volunteered to help in New York City when COVID 19 was raging there in April 2020.

“Capt. Bigio is a fine officer and a very caring nurse,” said Col. Dennis Britten, 307th MDS commander. “He is a great example of the type of Reserve Citizen Airmen we have, and I was not surprised by his selfless efforts to help fight COVID-19 a second time.”

 

Unlike his deployment to New York, where he treated hospitalized civilian patients, Bigio said his efforts in Texas mainly consisted of testing military personnel preparing for deployments.

 

Bigio and the other reservists were part of a larger medical team that supported testing at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base and Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston.

He said the team tested some family members and federal employees, but the bulk of their efforts were centered on Army and Air Force personnel getting ready for deployments and travel.

 

“We’d test between 250 and 300 people some days and at least 100 people every day,” said Bigio.

Though conditions in San Antonio were different from New York, they could still be taxing. The group operated in a parking garage where high temperatures exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That made hydration difficult because you can’t drink while wearing personal protective gear,” explained Bigio.

One thing both deployments held in common was the rapid nature in which they occurred. Bigio explained that the time between volunteering and going out the door was only a few days.

Also, like the New York deployment, Bigio had to take time off from his civilian role as a registered nurse. But he insisted he wouldn’t hesitate to make the sacrifice again.

“I’m a Reservist, and that’s what I do,” he said. “I’ve only got 13 more years to help before I have to retire, and I want to do all I can to help my country.”