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Preventative medicine in deployed environment is top priority for ‘Bio’ Airmen

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, surveys a dining facility ventilation system that will be tested for its flow rate with Master Sgt. Christopher Lance, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, surveys a dining facility ventilation system that will be tested for its flow rate with Master Sgt. Christopher Lance, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, helps measure the dimensions of a ventilation system inside a dining facility before conducting test for air flow rate September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, helps measure the dimensions of a ventilation system inside a dining facility before conducting test for air flow rate September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, writes down exact measurements of a ventilation system to compare them with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for cooking safety September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, writes down exact measurements of a ventilation system to compare them with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for cooking safety September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, overlooks as Master Sgt. Christopher Lance, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, writes down the corresponding air flow measurements for each section of a dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, overlooks as Master Sgt. Christopher Lance, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, writes down the corresponding air flow measurements for each section of a dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, captures photographic logs of a dining facility ventilation system being tested for air flow to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, captures photographic logs of a dining facility ventilation system being tested for air flow to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, uses a Direct-Reading instrument to measure the flow rate of air that is being passed through the dining facility ventilation system September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, walks through the kitchen of a dining facility inspecting the ventilation systems September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron Bioenvironmental, walks through the kitchen of a dining facility inspecting the ventilation systems September 30, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR --

Here at Al Udeid, the occupational hazards, due in large part to the extreme weather conditions, pose a greater risk to service member health than a typical duty location.  Bioenvironmental Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Support Squadron take that challenge seriously through preventative medicine.  

Just a few weeks ago, while sitting in the dining facility during one of the busiest meals of the day, someone here noticed that the ventilation constriction was causing the building to fill with smoke over time. This report was sent to the Airmen at the 379th EMDOSS Bioenvironmental shop. The special surveillance request became a ‘house call’ with the local fire department to inspect the ventilation ducts.  

“What we do is preventative medicine, as part of the medical group; we’re like health inspectors,” said Senior Airman Leah Smith, 379th EMDOSS Bioenvironmental engineering technician. “When work areas have a hazard, we analyze and quantify it, then recommend controls to protect persons that will be exposed.”  

During the inspection, Smith gathered information on the type of vents being used in addition to several other calculations to help craft a solution.  

“I took measurements and will back them up with specification to the manufacturer’s data on how it should be installed and used,” said Smith.  

This information will be compared to data that industrial hygienists from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have deemed safe. At that point, the airmen here will assemble, and then assimilate a new product to meet their standards. Airman Smith would then return to the job site and instruct certain precautionary measures that will ensure future safety in the workplace.  

Bioenvironmental Airmen here work day in and day out conducting surveys and site visits. They ensure that our Airmen and coalition partners are protected, which keeps us healthy and safe. Some may look at bioenvironmental Airmen as the ‘guys in the jelly bean suits,’ but in truth they are much more than that.  By providing us protection from occupational and radiological health hazards, as well as maintaining compliance with industrial hygiene and environmental protection standards, they allow the Airmen of Al Udeid to sustain the mission each and every day.