Ready Airmen: Bioenvironmental assess hazards, recommends PPE
By Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 02, 2015
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
This is the forth in a series of articles focusing on the 12 key tasks at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The way Team Osan focuses on the 51st Fighter Wing's command priorities and guards the freedom of 51 million people will be explored this week through the key task of Ready Airmen. Concluding the series will be a wrap-up article with a video showing the comprehensive spectrum of how Team Osan works on the key tasks.
The health and welfare of everyone working and living on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, is an important part to ensuring the base has mission-ready airmen and airpower. Environmental elements such as the air, water and sound can affect someone's health. The 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental flight finds ways to mitigate or even prevent health risks associated with those elements.
Bioenvironmental completes health risk assessments at work centers that operate around hazardous elements such as chemicals and loud noise. From the assessments they would recommend a certain level of personal protective equipment for people to wear to ensure their bodies are kept safe while they are working.
"The Bioenvironmental flight is about the preventive health side of the medical group," said Senior Master Sgt. Carmelito Sanga, 51st AMDS superintendent. "Their focus is to look at all the potential hazards associated with our mission and ensure members are protected."
Not only do they assess working environments, they also assess the quality of the running water on base to ensure it is safe to use and drink.
"The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron provides the water to the base and bio tests that water to make sure it is safe to consume," said Sanga. "The main intent for that is to make sure that whatever someone puts into their body is safe."
During Operational Readiness Exercises Bioenvironmental still provides health risk assessments but in a simulated war environment. They team up with 51st CES emergency managers to survey areas of the base that are simulated to become contaminated with biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agents. They would check M8 chemical identification paper posted around the base if any area goes into mission oriented protective posture level four. If the paper shows a positive result of contamination the team would run additional tests to confirm their findings. They use specialized equipment that is designed to detect and measure hazardous contaminates that could potentially hit the base.
"While it is MOPP four they are trying to identify and quantify what the hazards are," said Sanga. "They would report to the commands to let them know how long the risk is going to be here and give recommendation on what level PPE people need to be in."
This training is critical for Osan in a wartime situation. The safety of the people on base would be the first priority in the event of a chemical attack. Once that is accomplished the mission would need to continue even if a contamination was still around. Bioenvironmental ensures this by advising what level of PPE needs to be worn according to their findings.
Bioenvironmental Airmen are tested monthly to ensure they are able to stay proficient at their job. They also have quarterly evaluations with unknown samples to see if they are able to identify and quantify it correctly using their equipment.
"Precision is important in our job," said Sanga. "We need to know how to utilize our equipment and make sure we are proficient in our skill set."
Protecting the health of Team Osan's members and their families is essential to making sure the mission here continues to operate effectively. Having healthy environments at work and home safeguards the ability to have mission-ready airmen and airpower.
"At Osan, the mission is to be ready to be able to fight tonight and in order to do that we need to have healthy people," said Sanga. "We make sure that their normal, daily operations are conducted safely so that we can achieve the overall mission."