Thursday, July 31, 2014

TOP STORY>>Airmen kept safe from hazards by BEE flight

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Whether home or downrange, the mission of the BEEs, bioenvironmental engineers, is the same, to keep Airmen safe from a swarm of hazards and enable them to accomplish the mission.

The 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engine-ering flight mission identifies and analyzes chemical, biological, radio-logical, nuclear and physical threats.

“Bioenvironmental engineering’s mission is to provide operational health risk assessment expertise to Little Rock Air Force Base commanders in order to enhance decision making and health service support capabilities,” said Capt. James Reilly, the 19th Medical Group occupational health element chief.

Reilly said the BEF performs its mission through the completion of key capabilities, which include but are not limited to: installation water and toxic chemical vulnerability assessments; identifying, analyzing, and controlling occupational environmental health threats within all industrial work centers for each wing and documenting related OEH exposures as part of each service member’s “life-time” exposure record.

The 14-person team puts in time and effort day-in and day-out to ensure Airmen are mission ready so they can perform duties with limited exposure to the hazards they may encounter.

“Everything we do downrange is very similar to what we do here at home,” said Airman 1st Class Emery Coleman, a 19th AMDS bio-environmental engineering member. “We still do health risk assessments; we still do sampling. Some of the equipment we use may differ, but overall they are very closely related.”

These threats can travel through the air, water or ground. The flight assesses associated risks to human health and recommend courses of action to eliminate or control the hazards The courses of action that are taken can prevent casualties and enhance performance in both deployed and home base environments.

The bioenvironmental engineering flight provides operational health risk assessment expertise to enhance commander decision making and health service support capabilities.

The flight conducts occupational and environmental health reviews for industrial shops on a consistent basis.

“Essentially, we identify hazards, assess risks, analyze controls and make decisions on what controls to recommend,” said Coleman.

All of the preventative measures that the flight practices protect workers from over-exposure to potential hazards in their work area and environment.

There really is no “typical” day in bio said Coleman. One day the team could be doing gas mask or respirator fit testing or water sampling, the next day they could be doing noise, air or ventilation surveys or be called out for an emergency response.

“Every day is a mystery, which is why this job is so amazing,” said Coleman.

Though this team is small in numbers, they are large in mission success.

“We protect military and civilian employee health while enhancing combat and operational capabilities,” said Reilly. “Essentially, we keep the warfighters fit and enable this wing to provide combat airlift on a global scale.”

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