Columbus Airman fights pandemic in New York

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

After being on her feet for 12 to 13 hours, administering COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 200 patients per day and only taking breaks for lunch and dinner, newlywed Arianna Gordon just might have the chance to call her husband.

“I had to leave my husband behind on a very short notice,” said Gordon. “We were married exactly six months the day I left. Not being able to see him every day is tough. There are some nights we can’t even talk on the phone.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Arianna Gordon, 14th Health Care Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, was called to deploy through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Brooklyn, New York. Her efforts are in support of the U.S. Army North’s COVID-19 response.

In the rare spare moments of her shift, Gordon was able to share her experience through text messages, mentioning  not only could she feel the hours taking a toll on her body, but also mentally.

“I am used to being with my husband every day,” said Gordon. “I’m still getting used to being without him. It’s hard getting a full night’s sleep because I’m used to having him with me, which can also be a mental challenge the next day.”

Gordon worked every day, 16-17 hours per day, for the first seven days she arrived to provide support.

Since arriving on Feb. 23, 2021, Gordon has administered over 3,500 vaccines and has accumulated over 380 hours, making her one of the sites top vaccinators.

The long hours are not the only toll Gordon has paid. It was not until recently Gordon received the vaccine herself.

While on the front lines, Gordon was not yet vaccinated, potentially exposing herself to the virus as she interacted with hundreds of patients daily.

Gordon said she was on the fence about getting the vaccine and only received it at the end of March. Gordon explained that being in New York and seeing the impact of the vaccination effort first hand is what changed her mind.

“Getting the vaccine isn’t about yourself, it’s about those around you," said Gordon. “Get the vaccine for those who cannot, those whose immune systems are too weak for the vaccine to have an effect. It’s about protecting those who can’t protect themselves.”

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Rebeka Clifford, 56th Medical Group aerospace medical technician, works alongside Gordon and said Gordon is a very hard worker and she always puts her patients’ safety and comfort first.

“She takes the time to make her patients’ feel comfortable and helps calm their nerves before receiving the vaccine,” said Clifford.

“As a child I always talked about being a nurse in the Army when I grew up,” said Gordon. “The older
I became I realized the time and commitment I would have to spend in school, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it.”

“Being in New York has absolutely been an inspiration and re-sparked my passion for patient care,” said Gordon. “Each and every patient had their own story of how much the pandemic had affected their lives. It’s keeping me motivated.”

Her hard work had not gone unrecognized. Gordon received a challenge coin from U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Franklin Waddell, 335th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron joint commander, for being one of three top vaccinators on site.

In the spirit of true selflessness, Gordon said she would do it all over again if given the opportunity.