Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Air Force bioenvironmental engineers expand mission in aerovac, workspaces

Military Captain and team cleaning large, plastic enclosed space U.S Air Force Capt. Naomi King, 628th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron infectious disease team lead, reviews COVID-19 cleaning procedures with Airmen in the Transport Isolation System at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, April 5, 2020. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize risk to aircrew and medical attendants, while allowing in-flight medical care for patients affected by contagions like COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Allison Payne)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Bioenvironmental engineers across the Air Force are working to keep the workplace safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Col. Brian Peake, Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineering associate corps chief, says bioenvironmental engineers are using their experience in exposures and risk mitigation to combat the spread of the disease.

“Bioenvironmental engineers can take our knowledge of exposure science and apply it to any environmental threat, like COVID-19,” said Peake. “We can take what we have done for decades to mitigate Airmen exposure.”

The aeromedical evacuation mission became a top priority as COVID-19 began to spread.

Bioenvironmental engineers within Air Mobility Command lent their expertise in exposure mitigation when the Air Force was tasked with moving COVID-19 patients.

The Air Force is using the Transportation Isolation System, which was created in 2014 during the Ebola epidemic, and adapted to move COVID-19 patients. The Transportation Isolation System is an infectious disease containment unit that fits inside cargo aircraft and reduces risk to aircrew while allowing for en route medical care.

A cross functional team led by Master Sgt. Michael Huller, AMC Bioenvironmental Engineer functional manager, constructed a disinfection concept of operations and training plan in only ten days in advance of the first mission.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were only a handful of people trained on Transportation Isolation System support,” said Col. Vincent Falls, Command Bioenvironmental Engineer, Air Mobility Command. “To expand this capability to move more patients, we had to develop plans to project this capability to multiple locations, and come up with procedures to properly disinfect and reuse the TIS.”

On April 10, the Air Force used the Transportation Isolation System for the first time to move three COVID-19 patients from Afghanistan. Bioenvironmental engineers were on the flight, working alongside aeromedical evacuation crews and critical care air transportation teams.

“As part of that Transportation Isolation System support team, we ensured it maintained its integrity, and diagnosed and fixed any issues that arose in flight,” said Maj. Somvang Xayarath, Deputy Command Bioenvironmental Engineer with AMC and the bioenvironmental engineer on the first mission.

Xayarath played a key role in the support planning. He ensured everything on the aircraft was disinfected properly after the mission, and helped the follow-on support team prepare the next mission.

After that first mission, AMC deployed 42 bioenvironmental engineer technicians to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, in preparation for additional missions across the globe.

“Aeromedical evacuation is usually not a primary mission for bioenvironmental engineers,” said Huller. “Because we are skilled in doing health risk assessments, industrial operations, and hygiene plans, we can transition and operate in this arena.”

The bioenvironmental engineers’ involvement in safely moving COVID-19 patients highlights their flexibility, applying their skillset and foundational knowledge to new and emerging threats.

“We always talk about every Airman a problem solver,” said Huller. “As bioenvironmental engineers, we are a career field of problem solvers. We were tasked with adapting one system originally designed to move Ebola patients for a new use, and we did that in ten days.”

Because there is a large aerosol hazard with COVID-19, bioenvironmental engineers are also considering how this impacts Airmen in otherwise safe workspaces where respiratory exposures are not usually hazardous. Bioenvironmental engineers are ensuring N95 masks are properly tested to meet regulatory requirements, and identifying ways workspaces can be made safer.

“We ensure N95 masks meet the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines,” said Falls. “We make sure that these masks are fit tested, that it has an appropriate seal on the user’s face, and that it works properly.”

To further safeguard Airmen, bioenvironmental engineers are also considering the use of high-efficiency particulate air filtration, or HEPA filtration. Bioenvironmental engineers are leading an initiative to develop filtration capability where it would be most effective.

“We usually take for granted that the air we breathe is safe,” said Peake. “COVID-19 puts us in new territory where we have to figure out ways we can protect Airmen working in tight quarters.”

From aeromedical evacuation, to air filtration and mask checks, bioenvironmental engineers are working around the clock to keep Airmen safe and the Air Force mission going.

“Bioenvironmental engineers provide highly reliable health risk expertise to protect Airmen from workplace hazards and ensure their readiness to support the mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. Curtis McGehee, Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineering career field manager. “That is normal operations for us and we are applying this process to keep Airmen safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

DHA leadership recognizes, advances 60th MDG mission

Article
5/14/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place visits Travis Air Force Base

DHA leadership visit 60th Medical Group at Travis AFB.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | MHS GENESIS

Teamwork, adaptability, service – MTFs shine during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
5/14/2021
People at screening area

MHS readiness was put to the test at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020.

Recommended Content:

May Toolkit | May Military and Health Observances | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Join Us!! Sixth Live COVID-19 Town Hall

Article
5/12/2021
Image describing today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD.  They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Join us for today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD. They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Town Hall, May 12, 2021

Video
5/12/2021
MHS and Military OneSource COVID-19 Townhall, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Wednesday 12 May

Tune in for another MHS and Military OneSource Town Hall with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Is It Allergies or COVID-19?

Infographic
5/11/2021
Infographic that describes the difference between symptoms of allergies and those related to COVID-19

This Infographic provides a chart that outlines how to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergy symptoms

Recommended Content:

Symptoms of COVID-19 | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

Navy nurse steps into Jacksonville community for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/7/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing the COVID-19 vaccine program

Navy Cmdr. Glenn “Pete” Bradford is aiding the underserved Jacksonville community in COVID-19 vaccination mission

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Line Leader Presentation (PDF)

Publication
5/7/2021

This document is identical to the PowerPoint presentation for line leader reference and use.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Reasons to Choose a COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet

Publication
5/7/2021

Leaders and public affairs officers can share this information across channels to continue the vaccine confidence conversation.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Line Leader Presentation PPT

Publication
5/7/2021

Leaders across the Department can leverage this briefing deck to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with their troops. Don't forget to reference speaker notes and to personalize the title slide!

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Presentation Companion

Publication
5/7/2021

Leaders and public affairs officers may reference this document. It can be shared with commands to support briefings, or distributed independently to share facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Nurse and Tech Week: Air Force airmen are battle-tested and ready

Article
5/6/2021
12 COVID-19 patients aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft

For the past year, Air Force nurses and medical technicians have found themselves on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 disease.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | National Nurses Week | Technology | Nurses Week | May Toolkit | Coronavirus

DHA, HA leaders discuss MHS Transformation at AHA panel

Article
5/6/2021
Military personnel talking at a podium

Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place and Dr. Terry Adirim discussed MHS Transformation, MHS GENESIS, and highlighted the DHA’s response to COVID-19 in a virtual roundtable hosted April 12 by the American Hospital Association.

Recommended Content:

MHS GENESIS | MHS Transformation | Genesis of MHS GENESIS | Coronavirus

EACH celebrates National Nurses Week with a reflection on the pandemic

Article
5/6/2021
Military health personnel inputting information into a computer

Evans Army Community Hospital celebrates National Nurses Week 2021.

Recommended Content:

National Nurses Week | Nurses Week | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 54

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.