News>Bioenvironmental techs test for toxins near Tokyo
Capt. Isaiah Manigault assists Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sweetman with his chemical protection suit March 20, 2011, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Sergeant Sweetman was preparing to scan a convoy returning from an urban search and rescue mission in Myagi, Japan. Captain Manigault is the deputy chief of the 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight, and Sergeant Sweetman is a technician at the 18th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kimberly Spinner)
Tech. Sgt. Joanie Long inspects equipment March 15, 2011, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. A team from the 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight took the equipment to test for radioactive and other harmful chemicals and materials. Sergeant Long is the readiness NCO in charge at the 18th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight.(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman)
Tech. Sgt. Joanie Long holds an electronic personal dosimeter March 15, 2011, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The dosimeter is one of the many pieces of equipment Airmen from the 18th Aeromedicine Squadron took to mainland Japan in support of disaster relief efforts. Sergeant Long is the readiness NCO in charge at the 18th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman)
by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs
3/22/2011 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Among the typical crews for disaster relief in mainland Japan is an atypical crew.
Amid concerns for the environment, two Airman from the 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron's Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight has responded to the disasters there.
While other crews from here perform search-and-rescue operations and work to restore power in the neighboring cities, the 18th AMDS have deployed to Honshu island, sometimes known as mainland Japan, to aid Yokota AB in the testing for radiation and other contaminates in the surrounding environment.
Team members can conduct health assessments for hazards such as the exposure to radiation, (dangerous) chemicals and materials, and anything else that could harm the local populations, according to Tech. Sgt. Joanie Long, the bioenvironmental engineering flight readiness NCO in charge.
Though Sergeant Long stayed behind on this trip, she said the entire unit would have jumped at the opportunity to help more if they could.
"We just keep asking, 'What could we do more?'" Sergeant Long said. "If we could, we'd all jump on the plane and go so we could help out."
With these situations being so rare, most of the individuals in this career field may have trained for years without having to implement their skills in real-life situations.
Nineteen-year veteran Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Winslow, the bioenvironmental engineering flight chief and member of the deploying crew, said the last time he performed in a real-world emergency was 10 years ago, when he worked to detect uranium around a nuclear reactor at his first base.
Though it's been a decade since he had to perform outside of an exercise environment, Sergeant Winslow said the team has been training vigorously over the years to prepare for situations like this one.
"I've been training (for this kind of situation) for 19 years," Sergeant Winslow said. "We spend a lot of hours training every week, and with all of our experience in exercises and training, we're very capable. I'm looking forward to being able to use my skill to help someone."
3/26/2011 9:00:01 PM ET My name is Mark Cummins and I have warfare agent and threat cloud neutralization. There has been spin-off research and actual fire-control projects in coal mine fire control that correlates to the Navy emergency response team that has been deployed to the Japan reactors. The Navy teams could use this foam system to fill the reactor buildings with a water-based durable foam solution containing boron and other products to control the heat and greatly reduce the amount of water needed to cool the reactors and control the amount of contaminated water run-off. The foam mass attracts particulate matter and smoke and drops clouds of radiation to the ground area where it was released. This foam system has been used successfully at two major coal mine fires where the foam was pumped great distances through conventional fire hose which will also float on top of sea water from ship to shore when filled with foam. I can flow millions of gallons of fire controlling foam much greater dista... (rest