FORT BLISS, Texas (KTSM) — A Fort Bliss soldier is being recognized for his forward-thinking COVID-19 projection model that helped not only Fort Bliss, but the City of El Paso determine what to expect in the early days of the pandemic.
Major Evan Wolf, a Cozad, Nebraska native, and University of Texas at El Paso doctoral graduate created a progression rate model for Fort Bliss leadership in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maj. Wolf, who serves as an Operations Research and Systems Analysis (ORSA) officer in the 1st Armored division, then used his analysis to assist the City of El Paso during the early days of their COVID-19 task force.
Maj. Wolf used data from Juárez, El Paso, and Southern New Mexico, along with trends across the DoD, to develop and analyze trends for Fort Bliss response efforts and additional needs that William Beaumont Army Medical Center may expect in the weeks and months ahead.
“Medical modeling is critical to save lives as part of predictive analysis. It helps us make decisions, and forecast usage for things like ICU beds and ventilators, and predict when we might exceed a capacity point,” said Derrick Washington, Interim Director of Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) for the garrison at Fort Bliss, and the Chief, Installation Plans and Operations.
“Fort Bliss used Maj. Wolf’s model as a consideration in making our COVID-19 response decisions, among them was the command’s decision to go to more stringent protection measures early-on to protect the force,” said Washington.
Both Acting Senior Commander Brig. Gen. Matthew Eichburg and Washington recognized that Wolf’s model might be helpful to the City of El Paso leadership, who was beginning to create their own response.
“It’s kind of humbling. Considering all the models there are online, and how many state experts there are, I didn’t really expect my model to go to that level. I was happy that it was useful at the division level, but I was kind of shocked when there were discussions that they wanted to share it with the city,” Wolf said.
He says the collaboration and means to improve his model after speaking with Army Medical experts and City of El Paso experts was invaluable to his research, which he says is far from over.
Maj. Wolf’s contribution to the City’s analysis is just one piece of the long history of collaboration between the installation and El Paso.
“This installation doesn’t turn into a separate entity from the community – we have a very team-centric relationship and it shows. It means a lot to know that we always have a seat at the city’s emergency management center, and to share advances with the city whenever we can. It doesn’t feel like a city and a separate post, it feels like a team,” said Washington.
Maj. Wolf is a 2002 graduate of Cozad High School in 2002, he commissioned as a combat engineer at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He has a master’s degree in engineering management from Missouri School of Science and Technology (2011) and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas-El Paso in civil engineering (2018). Research is something Wolf is passionate about and he aspires to someday serve at the U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center or ERDC.
“I am very detailed-oriented,” said Wolf. “I like to look at the details of things and the ability to support the mission from that aspect. I was drawn to FA 49 because of a lot of the opportunities for professional development and training to make sure we’re relevant on what’s going on, be it online or opportunities to go to schools.”
Before focusing his research on the COVID-19 pandemic, Maj. Wolf was using data to recommend potential solutions for complex strategic business issues and helped leaders on which methods would best succeed in their goals.
Wolf has spent the greater part of the last six years in El Paso and continues to be impressed with the partnership between the 1AD, Fort Bliss, the El Paso community and city leadership.
“Understanding when I built the model from scratch, it wasn’t going to be perfect because no model is,” said Wolf. “In talking to the city experts, the more I had to explain it to others, it made me more aware of what’s going on with it. A lot of good came out of our coordination; just talking the model with them demonstrates the bond between the post and community. We’re our own entities, but we work as one,” he said.