JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST,N.J. —
Perhaps the first line of defense in preventive medicine, the 87th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental team is on-site at organizations, identifying and preventing chemical-borne illnesses before they can occur.
As technology progresses and society has become more aware of the dangers of certain chemical agents, these soldiers of sanitation lead the way in both identifying the dangerous substances as well as developing and implementing solutions for keeping people protected.
“We have a really good team. We all come together to really make the mission possible,” said Tech. Sgt. Krystal Matlock, 87th AMDS occupational health element NCO in charge. “We ensure service members and their families aren’t exposed to harmful agents - we do the best we can because we care.”
Their practice and attention to detail were recently put to the test when a potential hazard was identified in one of the structural maintenance shops here. The bio team recognized that there were insufficient safety measures to protect against the dangers of a chemical called hexavalent chromium, an anticorrosive agent contained in some paints, primers and other surface coatings.
“The industrial shop works with chemicals that are pretty nasty, and they’re not always aware why it’s so important to wear proper protection,” said Matlock. “We do the best we can to identify, correct and prevent contamination because some of these hazards can seriously affect them and their families.”
Following the discovery of potential contamination, safety measures were put in place protecting the Airmen working in the structural maintenance shop.
“The bioenvironmental Airmen facilitate the installation of essential health safety equipment throughout our organization,” said Airman 1st Class Blake Blain, 305th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintainer. “We’ve been working with them closely as our facilities are upgraded with additional protection from the harmful chemicals we work with every day.”
Bioenvironmental has a robust mission set on the installation, said Matlock. While the structural maintenance upgrade is a big ticket item, the chemical combatants are responsible for protecting and monitoring the health safety of every unit across the joint base.
“In order to do this job, we have to know a little about a lot – our job is to know your job,” said Matlock. “Bioenvironmental has something to do with every organization across the installation. We’re here to keep you safe.”