Scott Air Force Base News

Bioenvironmental ensures Airmen safety

Bioenvironmental engineering technicians with the 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron prepare protective suits during a training exercise Nov. 29. Level C level of protection is used in events where the concentration and type of airborne substance is known and the criteria for using an air purifying respirator are met. Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia
Bioenvironmental engineering technicians with the 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron prepare protective suits during a training exercise Nov. 29. Level C level of protection is used in events where the concentration and type of airborne substance is known and the criteria for using an air purifying respirator are met. Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia

Conducting occupational health surveys, sampling drinking water and responding to emergencies are just some of the primary missions of the 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Bioenvironmental Engineering flight.

Their missions encompass occupational health, environmental health and emergency response and readiness to ensure Team Scott’s well-being.

“For instance, occupational health involves us visiting industrial work sections such as aircraft maintenance or civil engineering shops and evaluating their work processes,” said Tech. Sgt. Charles Beckwith, NCO in charge of Occupational Health.

“We examine what health hazards are present during the work processes, perform quantitative sampling, and determine what degree of hazard the workers are exposed to.”

From there, personal protective equipment recommendations are made to reduce any further hazard during the work processes.

“I’ve seen situations where individuals are working with a chemical that can cause long-term skin damage,” said Beckwith. “We recommended gloves that were made of a more resistant material that traveled past the elbow in order to protect more of the exposed skin.”

The flight also conducts drinking water sampling to ensure the base has safe water in accordance with EPA and state standards.

“The drinking water is sampled on a monthly basis for pH levels, chlorine residual, and bacterial growth,” said Beckwith. “This is done on a regular basis to ensure the water system does not get people sick. We also perform sampling for metals in the water if there is suspected contamination.

“Finally, we have the ability to sample for chemical warfare agents in the water if there is suspected contamination.”

Emergency response involves entering scenes that involve hazardous materials with fire and emergency management.

“We have a large variety of equipment we use during these situations which we will use to identify what the hazard is and how much of it is there,” said Beckwith. “From there we make health-risks assessments that affect both on-scene responders and base personnel.”

In January 2017, Scott AFB experienced a bomb scare when a potentially hazardous package was left outside of the James Gym. Beckwith, along with emergency management and firefighters, had a hand in determining whether or not it contained dangerous contents.

“I was part of a joint entry team to identify what the powder was,” said Beckwith. “We were able to clear the scene for hazardous materials and return the area to normal working conditions two hours later.”

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