GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The 17th Medical Group hosted their medical in-place decontamination training at the Ross Clinic here September 12. The training is to prepare medical personnel to handle decontaminations during emergencies.
“Our job is to do the finer cleaning of contaminates if there’s a contingency or an explosion that might happen,” said Tech. Sergeant Vinh Nguyen, 17th MDG in-place decontamination team chief.
The training includes many different aspects, such as setting up the decontamination center decontaminating and treating patients. Personnel train on how to properly don their protective gear and how to communicate to disinfect their patients.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces,” said Nguyen. “There’s a lot of hand signals. Once we have the suit on, we can’t hear anything. We rely on experience and rely on each other, knowing what we need to do.”
The suits that the medical personnel wear during these type of events allow them to work in environments where they can cleanse patients of things such as radiation, chemicals, nerve agents, blister agents, and choking agents.
This, of course, is not what the 17th MDG personnel do daily. They come together as a team during times of emergency to save the lives of individuals affected by these agents.
“I’m the NCOIC for the optometry clinic,” said Nguyen. “I’ve got folks from 4N which is the medical technicians. We’ve got 4Ts like laboratory folks. We’ve got 4Js which is physical therapy. So it’s just a whole range of folks.”
They also have associations with local hospitals to learn from each other and train on different equipment.
“Being a civilian from downtown sometimes we don’t have all of the necessary equipment,” said Lori Poss, Director of Cardiopulmonary and Sleep Medicine at San Angelo Community Medical Center, “It was very nice of you guys to invite us out to see all the moving parts and to train with you so that if there ever is a community-wide situation we know we have the training and support from you guys.”
Although unlikely, the medical personnel aim to be as proactive as possible to react to any emergencies which may arise adequately.
“I think training is the key and engraining it into everybody that you work with daily,” said Poss. “You have to practice because just saying ‘no I practiced one time and I know what’s going on,’ You have to set up a command and practice certain aspects of it monthly or at least quarterly so that when the two groups come together, you have a team effort with similar training.”
The local hospitals and the Ross Clinic on Goodfellow have a plan to work together in the event of an emergency along with training their personnel on how to handle those situations.
“I hope they want to invite us to come out and do their training,” said Nguyen. “I hope we have impressed them enough they want us to assist in their training so that we can enhance the partnership with the community. That’s not just Goodfellow, but its San Angelo and we’re part of that.”
Throughout training events such as this, the 17th MDG does not only learn but teaches and exchanges expertise with local medical professionals.