Training for Decontamination

  • Published
  • By Airman Jackson Haddon

A joint training exercise between Altus Air Force Base and Sheppard Air Force Base was held earlier this week at the 97 Medical Group.


The joint training was designed to give Airmen hands on experience with equipment used for In-Place Patient Decontamination, including; a shelter, protection suits and other equipment to decontaminate patients. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Barnett Jr., 97 Medical Operations Squadron bioenvironmental engineer technician, led the training.


“It’s important for base readiness,” said Barnett. “If we have a natural disaster, hazmat spill, train derailment, it’s important for those patients to come in and it’s our job to protect the Medical Treatment Facility. If it gets contaminated, it’s pretty much useless.”


Airmen involved with the exercise constructed a shelter numerous times and went through a deep cleansing process with volunteers. According to Barnett, this kind of hands on training helps the preparedness of Airmen when an actual emergency breaks out, giving Airmen not only a visual for the procedures, but allowing them to follow through with actions required during a real outbreak.


 “There’s an annual requirement to have a didactic hands on exercise,” said Barnett “What that entails is basically; setup, run an exercise and tear down.”


Not only did the training opportunity help Altus Airmen be prepared, it also helped Airmen from Sheppard AFB.


“The joint training was great,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Haigood, 82nd Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of radiology. “It gave Sheppard the opportunity to get to know some of the people doing the same things here at Altus. It gave them a chance to cross examine each other, interact and compare our procedures to make a better process.”


This annual training opportunity has the potential of saving countless lives in the field during a deployed operation or chemical outbreaks.


“Our setup is very similar to the setup in a deployment,” said Haigood. “The decontamination tents and the water heater pieces are a little bigger, but the processes are still the same. So the decontamination process is still the same from the in place patient decontamination to the deployed decontamination.”


The Airmen worked to complete their requirement of accepting their first patient within 20 minutes, beating the time by seven minutes. By not only meeting the standard, but exceeding the standard; Altus and Sheppard Airmen increased their readiness and preparedness for not only home station but deployed locations as well.