LIMA — Lima native Scott Shalek is doing his part to help diminish the spread of COVID-19.
Shalek, a staff sergeant with the 116th Maintenance Squadron of the Georgia Air National Guard, is a 2007 graduate of Shawnee High School.
He spent 11 years as an active duty member of the military, serving his country from 2008 to 2019 before signing up for the Georgia Air National Guard.
He jumped at the chance to help fight the virus.
“They called me up in early April and asked if I’d be interested in volunteering for the mission to help Georgians with the COVID-19 crisis,” Shalek said. “There was no specific information on it when I first volunteered, but it was something that I would be interested in doing. So I went ahead and volunteered, and I got called up at the beginning of May. They had some people cycle out, and I started working with the sanitation teams, the infection control teams. It was called the ICT and is in the long-term living facilities.”
Shalek donned a hazmat suit and got to work.
“Typically they’ll take our temperatures, and we get in our big hazmat suits and do a complete sanitation of the facility,” he said. “So we’ll wipe down all the high-touch areas with some pretty powerful disinfectants. Then after that, we’ll go through with an electrostatic fogger and fog all the common areas. I feel like that’s the really important part is that fogger gets everything. I mean, it just affects the entire area.”
Shalek sees what they’re doing is helping.
“The staff of the facilities has been great. They’ve been really appreciative of us,” he said. “Coordinating with them has been a real pleasure. And just being able to get to see that we’re impacting the lives and preserving life through what we’re doing, it’s a gift.”
Shalek spent several weeks cleaning several Georgia nursing homes.
“Our team is around 10 people. We’ll do one facility a day, six days a week. They don’t want us to come on Sunday, most of the time,” Shalek said.
Shalek says his experience in helping nursing homes is one he appreciates and one he would do again if asked.
“The satisfaction of being able to go out there and help the neighbors, the community, being able to do something,” Shalek said. “Everyone kind of feels helpless with all this stuff going on, and being able to get out there and try to make a difference, that’s kind of what the Guard is for — to be able to help our neighbors, to be there when we’re needed. So being able to accomplish that mission has been really important.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.