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. 28 No. 05 - May 2021

Report
5/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 04 - April 2021

Report
4/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Disparities in COVID-19 vaccine initiation and completion among active component service members and healthcare personnel, 11 December 2020–12 March 2021; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2020; Skin and soft tissue infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2016–September 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 03 - March 2021

Report
3/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Influenza surveillance trends and influenza vaccine effectiveness among Department of Defense beneficiaries during the 2019–2020 influenza season; Influenza outbreak during Exercise Talisman Sabre, Queensland, Australia, July 2019; Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2020; A retrospective cohort study of blood lead levels among special operations forces soldiers exposed to lead at a firing range in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 02 - February 2021

Report
2/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Historical perspective: The evolution of post-exposure prophylaxis for vivax malaria since the Korean War; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 01 - January 2021

Report
1/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Attrition rates and incidence of mental health disorders in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD medication treatment in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Exertional rhabdomyolysis and sickle cell trait status in the U.S. Air Force, January 2009–December 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 12 - December 2020

Report
12/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cases of coronavirus disease 2019 and comorbidities among Military Health System beneficiaries, 1 January 2020 through 30 September 2020; Characteristics of U.S. Army beneficiary cases of COVID-19 in Europe, 12 March 2020–17 April 2020; Air evacuation of service members for COVID-19 in U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command from 11 March 2020 through 30 September 2020; SARS-CoV-2 and influenza coinfection in a deployed military setting— Two case reports.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 11 - November 2020

Report
11/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Acute respiratory infections among active component service members who use combustible tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes/vaping products, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018–2019; Fibromyalgia: Prevalence and burden of disease among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2015–June 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 10 - October 2020

Report
10/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Characterizing the contribution of chronic pain diagnoses to the neurologic burden of disease, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2015–April 2020; Acute and chronic pancreatitis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 9 - September 2020

Report
9/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2015–June 2020; Incidence of inguinal hernia and repair procedures and rate of subsequent pain diagnoses, active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019; Surveillance of spotted fever rickettsioses at Army installations in the U.S. Central and Atlantic regions, 2012–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 8 - August 2020

Report
8/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The limited role of vaccines in the prevention of acute gastroenteritis; Diarrhea and associated illness characteristics and risk factors among British active duty service members at Askari Storm training exercise, Nanyuki, Kenya, January–June 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks in military forces, 2015–2019; Update: Incidence of acute gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 7 - July 2020

Report
7/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hearing conservation measures of effectiveness across the Department of Defense; Alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and co-occurring injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Cervical cancer screening among U.S. military service women in the Millennium Cohort Study, 2003–2015; Epidemiology of functional neurological disorder, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 6 - June 2020

Report
6/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Letter to the editor: G6PD deficiency in the Tafenoquine era; Summary of the 2018–2019 influenza season among Department of Defense service members and other beneficiaries; Brief report: Direct care cost of heat illness to the Army, 2016–2018; Animal-related injuries in veterinary services personnel, U.S. Army, 2001–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 5 - May 2020

Report
5/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2019; Prevalence of selected underlying health conditions among active component Army service members with coronavirus disease 2019, 11 February–6 April 2020; Early use of ICD-10-CM code “U07.1, COVID-19” to identify 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Military Health System administrative data.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - April 2020

Report
4/22/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The Warrior Heat- and Exertion-Related Event Collaborative and the Fort Benning Heat Center; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2015–2019; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004–2019

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - APR 2020

Report
4/2/2020

As of 1 APR, 186,101 total confirmed COVID-19 cases (3,603 deaths) have been reported in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Current hot spots include NY, NJ, LA, CA, GA, FL, SC, and Guam. Confirmed COVID-19 cases are rapidly accelerating in the U.S., an increase expected due to amplified testing capacity and ongoing community spread. As of 1 APR, CDC is reporting widespread transmission of COVID-19 in 25 (+12) U.S. states and Guam.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 19

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.