GPA employees step up to serve in National Guard


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GPA crane mechanic Ethan Richardson also serves in the Georgia National Guard. Richardson is one of dozens of GPA employees serving in the armed forces.

Service members helping with COVID-19 response

Like many service members across the country, Georgia Ports crane mechanic Ethan Richardson didn’t think twice when asked why he serves in the Georgia National Guard.

“It’s part of my duty as a citizen,” Richardson said. “I felt it was absolutely necessary to serve in the armed forces.”

SPC Richardson, who has been serving in the Guard for eight years, is one of hundreds of GPA employees who have stepped up to serve in the military. Several have been recently assisting in Georgia’s COVID-19 response.

As Georgia began to prepare for the crisis in March, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order to call up as many as 2,000 Georgia National Guard troops to State Active Duty. Part of this response has been Infection Control Teams working diligently to disinfect facilities throughout the state.

First Sergeant Stan Fulgham is also a GPA crane operator and has been serving with the Guard for 19 years. Fulgham is helping oversee sanitizing of assisted living facilities by 15-person teams.

There are currently 10 crews disinfecting facilities on a regular rotation. Richardson, who is serving on a crew, said his team is assigned a set of facilities to be cleaned every week to 10 days.

This allows teams to help keep at-risk populations as healthy as possible. The mission also enables the state to conserve medical supplies and hospital bed space.

Service members focus on high-traffic areas and surfaces. The teams wear protective gear and once inside, keep a safe distance from the residents and use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended chemicals to kill the virus.

Fulgham said the current directives have been extended through June 24. The size of crews and the frequency of rotations will then be adjusted as needed. As this service requires time away from work, Fulgham stressed the importance of having a supportive employer.

“Everyone at GPA has been so supportive of my service,” Fulgham said. “At every level, they really respect my military duty.”

Chief Human Resources Officer Lise Altman said GPA is proud to support its military service members.

“Our employees are on the front line every day protecting Georgians around our state,” Altman said. “We salute our GPA heroes.”