For the second time since the pandemic began in 2020, Chris Pyle is shifting from his role as a pre-k teacher with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to helping at medical facilities around the state as a member of the Indiana National Guard.
The 29-year-old Pyle, an educator at Meredith Nicholson School 96, is waiting for his next assignment as part of the National Guard’s Hospital Recovery Support Team. As part of the Indiana National Guard, he is part of an engineering unit based in Franklin, Indiana.
“I’m going somewhere in Indiana to do whatever is necessary to make it easier for nurses and other medical personal to take care of their patients,” he said. “Our unit will be doing a little bit of everything from cleaning rooms to bringing meals to patients. I’m looking forward to helping people around Indiana again. It’s what we signed up for.”
National Guard units break into teams that typically include two medical personnel and four general support personnel. Medics can help with vital sign collection, assisting nurses with IVs and blood collections, and the additional four team members can assist with non-patient care duties such as room cleaning, delivering food trays, paperwork, and restocking supplies.
The jobs and tasks above are just some examples of what Hospital Recovery Support Teams can do, but specifics vary according to need and demand, noted Pyle, who specializes in masonry and carpentry.
“This role is nothing like what I have learned to do since I enlisted in 2016,” said Pyle, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton and a master’s from Ball State University. “But I am looking forward to learning new skills and getting new experiences that will help me in the future. It is another challenge in life.”
Since April 2020, Hoosier Guardsmen have been integral in Indiana’s response to COVID-19, assisting at food banks, correction facilities, long-term care facilities, testing sites, vaccination sites, and hospitals.
The surge for these teams came in December. Overall, since late November, Indiana National Guard teams have been at 30 different facilities throughout the state.
“This is my second time being called up,” said Pyle, who was assigned to a long-term care facility for several months from late 2020 to early 2021. “That was before the vaccines and we were covered head to toe in PPE and tested regularly.
LaShonda Huff, the principal at Meredith Nicholson, said Pyle has only been gone a few days, but he is missed by his students and his peers.
“He is amazing with our littles, and we already miss him very much,” she said. “Mr. Pyle is serving our country, fighting Covid while his beautiful wife is pregnant with twins. We are very proud of him for his service.”
Pyle admits the next few months will be a challenge as he and his wife of nearly four years, Rachel, prepare for being first-time parents at their home in Cicero.
“I think my students will be alright because we have a great support system at School 96, but I am going to miss those kids a lot,” he said. “But I am excited to get my orders and finish our assignment before our children are born in May. I could go from military to new dad mode very quickly.”