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Volunteers Needed At Jacksonville Drive Through Coronavirus Testing Site

A volunteer at a drive through coronavirus testing site.
A volunteer at a drive through coronavirus testing site.

Volunteers are needed at a drive through COVID-19 testing site in Jacksonville, and at other sites around the country.

Remote Area Medical (RAM), a Tennessee based nonprofit that runs free pop-up clinics offering dental, vision, and medical care to underserved and uninsured individuals across the country, is looking to recruit volunteers for 26 testing sites in 13 different states, including one in the parking lot of the  Walmart (store 1172) at 13490 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville.

The testing site will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, but it will be closed for Mother’s Day.

RAM COO Chris Hall said they need four or five volunteers at each location.

“Those volunteers do not have to have a medical background. They’re general support volunteers that will do everything from performing initial eligibility screenings, checking IDs, confirming appointments, obtaining patient consent, assembling kits, and assisting in the drive through process for the COVID testing,” he said.

But they are also trying to get at least one volunteer with a medical background - someone like a nurse, a paramedic, or an EMT - at each site. 

All volunteers will be given appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We're assisting these sites with the volunteers so that we can provide the service free of cost to the community of Jacksonville,” Hall said.

RAM says people should not volunteer if they or someone they live with is older than 65, is struggling with health issues (specifically diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, or immunosuppression), is not feeling well or has a fever, is infected with the coronavirus, or is nursing or pregnant.

“Outside of that, everyone is encouraged,” Hall said. “If you want to get back and play a big part in this fight against COVID-19, this is an opportunity to be able to do that.”

Carson Davis, 29, from Knoxville, TN, has been volunteering at one of these testing sites in Tennessee. She used to be a scribe in the ER, which means she would follow physicians around and write charts for them. Now she’s applying to physician assistant school.

She first heard about RAM from a nurse she worked with in the ER and started volunteering with the organization about two years ago. 

When RAM reached out and asked Davis to volunteer at a coronavirus testing site, she agreed without hesitation.

“Something of this magnitude will only happen once in our lifetime. We'll be telling our children and our children's children about this, and I just want to be able to tell them the role that I played and that I did my part,” she said.

And despite the highly contagious nature of the virus, Davis said she’s not really worried about contracting it herself at these testing sites.

“Everyone's taking such high precautions, we're wearing so much PPE, we've got barriers set up, there's so many protocols in place that I feel safe. I definitely feel safe in the situation,” she said. 

And she says there’s no real physical contact with the people who are coming to get tested.

“As patients arrive, they're kind of doing a drive through and they stay in their car the entire time,” she explained. “We have no face to face interaction with them. We've got the barrier of their window the entire time, and we've got a couple of stations set out and they drive right through and they get tested at the end.”

For more information, or to register to volunteer, go to .

“This is a great opportunity for individuals at home who want to join in the efforts against COVID-19 in their local community,” said RAM CEO Jeff Eastman.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit .