Medical logistics team keep Hanscom clinic, Air Force MTFs latex-free

  • Published
  • By Capt. Adam Livermore
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Two Airmen from the 66th Medical Squadron here recently brought major changes to Air Force medicine.

Following a routine squadron safety patient meeting, Master Sgt. Matthew Ulrichs, Medical Logistics noncommissioned officer in charge, and Tech Sgt. Justin Everett, Medical Materiel NCO in charge, changed the way Air Force medics conduct treatment in the field and in the clinic.

“We go around the room and discuss any issues with facilities, equipment, manpower and systems and label them green, yellow or red, [based on severity],” said Ulrichs.

During one such meeting, these two laboratory technicians identified a bandage wrap product that contained latex. 

According to Ulrichs, latex is an inexpensive, easily moldable, durable material found in a wide variety of medical products such as bandages, blood pressure cuffs, syringes, IV tubes and catheters. 

However, latex is a common allergy among patients and health care workers. Individuals can become sensitive to the proteins in natural rubber latex, and repeated exposure can result in severe sensitivities. For this reason, the Air Force Medical Service established the goal of ensuring latex-free facilities over a decade ago.

“Latex allergies can be very serious. Adverse reactions can range from mild skin irritation to significant respiratory effects,” said Col. Stephen Boglarski, 66 MDS commander. “Maintaining a latex-free facility protects both our patients and our medical staff.”

The medical logistics team here immediately removed the product from the facility, and flagged the item in the ordering system, so it could no longer be procured.

In the process of removing the item, Ulrichs and Everett quickly noticed the product was in use at more treatment facilities than just Hanscom.

The latex bandage wrap was listed as an essential item in over 250 equipment assemblages across the Air Force, and was on multiple deployable lists, including for Ground Surgical Teams. 

The Hanscom Airmen immediately elevated the issue to several different major commands to gather and remove those assemblages. The team researched and found the same size bandage in a non-latex variant and added to the system.

Within a week of their discovery, officials sent out a notification to all Air Force military treatment facilities to remove and replace the item Air Force-wide. 

“It feels good to know we made a difference,” said Ulrichs. “This is why we do what we do in Air Force medical logistics.”