By Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When illness prevention comes to mind, some people may imagine doctors working in a lab searching for cures to formidable diseases. However, the 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineers are unsung scientists, chemists and microbiologists who specialize in identifying potential health hazards in the workplace and surrounding areas.
“Daily operations can vary from conducting radiation surveys, testing water and air samples, to responding to hazardous emergency,” said Senior Airman Ivan Monroy, 19th AMDS bioenvironmental engineer. “In an emergency response, we drop everything we’re doing and load up our vehicles to respond to the scene and complete the mission.”
Prevention is their focus and the partnerships they have with on and off base agencies are vital to the health of Team Little Rock. From the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Fire Department to local authorities and the FBI, the Airmen work to eliminate carcinogens and other harmful illnesses through identification, isolation and testing.
A huge part of their job is acquiring the knowledge needed, and forming an impenetrable bond to protect one another from harm since they often face dangerous situations.
“We are a family,” said Master Sgt. Peter Stein, 19th AMDS bioenvironmental flight chief. “When we are fully suited for a hazardous response, there’s only 45 minutes of air in the tanks; we need to watch out for one another incase an Airman runs out of air.”
Every tool in the bioenvironmental arsenal is strategically employed for the detection of various pollutants and radiation in the environment. Tools are used to survey ventilation systems for uncontaminated airflow, check water potential hydrogen levels for pollutants and equip deploying service members with lifesaving gas masks.
Their expertise ensures healthy working conditions so the environment is not adversely affected by harmful resources.
“One thing I stress to my Airmen is how important they are,” Stein said. “They may not be the doctor who is treating the cancer, but they are the technicians who are preventing the cancer from happening in the first place.”