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...

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 5 – May 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Listeria monocytogenes meningitis, Ft. Bragg; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Strongyloides stercoralis hyperinfection; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; Kawasaki Disease, Tripler Army Medical Center; Heat / Cold weather injuries, Jan - Apr, 1996; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 4 – April 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Rash outbreaks, U.S. forces operating in Belgium; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Injuries and fitness in BCT units, FLW, MO; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; Shigellosis case reports, WRAMC; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: 1995 Hospitalization Summary; Active duty hospitalizations; Hospitalization rates; Total hospital sickdays; Non-effective rates; Supplement #2: 1995 Reportable Disease Summary; All notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Force strength (December 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 3 – March 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, WRAMC; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Preliminary data: HEARS; Leprosy in a Navy family member, Ft Hood; Surveillance Trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI Hospitalizations; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 1 – January 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cold Weather Injuries, Oct - Dec, 1995; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis – WRAMC; Surveillance Trends: CWI hospitalization rates; Hepatitis A in a SF Unit, Ft Lewis, WA; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Dec 1995; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; ARD surveillance update; Force strength (September 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 2 – February 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Injuries in integrated BCT units, FLW, MO; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Cold weather injuries, Ft. Drum, NY; Surveillance Trends: Hospitalizations, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI Hospitalizations; TB skin test results, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 9 – November 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Shigella sonnei diarrheal outbreaks; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; TB Skin Test Converters, Ft. Leavenworth; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 8 – November 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hydrogen sulfide exposure, Ft Irwin; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; GBS following Influenza immunization; Korean hemorrhagic fever, Korea; Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Fort Leavenworth, KS; PM guidance: Deployment to FRY; Cold weather injury rates, 1991 – 1995; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 2 – May 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Tularemia case report; ARD surveillance update; Rubella outbreak in German troops, Ft. Bragg; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Injury hospitalizations, ODS; Top ten corner: Disability evaluations.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 5 – August 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat related Injuries, July 1995; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Heat / Cold weather injuries, Jan - Jul, 1995; Classification and disposition of heat injuries; Respiratory disease outbreak, Fort Jackson; Surveillance trends: Heat Injuries 1990 – 1994; ARD surveillance update; Lightning Strike, Fort Jackson.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 6 – September 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Dermatitis outbreak, Heidelberg, Germany; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Heat injuries, Mar - Aug, 1995; Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Korea; Surveillance trends: HFRS 1990-1994; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 3 – June 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance for tuberculosis infection, WRAMC; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Top ten corner: Causes of lost duty days; Adenovirus Outbreak - Fort Jackson; ARD surveillance update; Supplement: HIV-1 infection; Status of HIV-1 infected patients; Prevalence of HIV-1, civilian applicants; Active duty soldiers infected with HIV-1; HIV-1 testing program, 1985 – 1994.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 9 – December 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hydrogen sulfide exposure, Ft Irwin; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; GBS following Influenza immunization; Korean hemorrhagic fever, Korea; Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Fort Leavenworth, KS; PM guidance: Deployment to FRY; Cold weather injury rates, 1991 – 1995; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 4 – July 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diarrheal outbreak, UN battalion, Haiti; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Malaria in active duty soldiers; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Jun 1995; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; ARD surveillance update; Force strength (March 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 7 – October 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Adenovirus serosurvey, basic trainees; Influenza immunization guidelines, 1995-96; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Mefloquine use in pregnant soldiers; Surveillance trends: Bacterial diarrhea; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Sep 1995; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; ARD surveillance update; Force strength (June 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 1 - April 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Chemical agent exposure, Germany; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Influenza-like illness, Ft Benning; ARD update; Supplement #1: 1994 Hospitalization Summary; Active Duty Hospitalizations; Hospitalization rates; Total Hospital Sickdays; Non-Effective Rates; Supplement #2: 1994 Reportable Disease Summary; Reports submitted by MT0; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; All notifiable conditions; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Force strength (December 1994).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 56 57 58 > >> 
Showing results 856 - 870 Page 58 of 58

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.