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87th MDG welcomes automated gas mask fit test

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Austin Knox
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

Air Force Medical Readiness Agency representatives visited the 87th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron to conduct initial field-training on the new automated gas mask fit testing kiosk on May 11, 2023.

The new machine uses Controlled Negative Pressure technology that directly measures respiratory leakage, compared to the current Condensation Nucleus Counter method of sampling particles in the air. This more direct testing method enables a virtual operator to provide instructions via monitor, allowing users to conduct their own fit test.

“The main benefit for using this gas mask fit test kiosk unit is its quick daily start-ups, easy walk-through instructions and the ability to perform many fit tests quickly in a day,” said Tiffany Sollog, 87th OMRS respiratory program manager. “It will save us many man hours that are currently needed to supervise fit tests.”

The focus of the AFMRA is to increase operational medical readiness in support of an expeditionary fighting force, and the new innovative technology was developed from concerns brought to the AFMRA from the Air National Guard.

“Bioenvironmental engineering personnel from the Air National Guard reached out and informed us that facilitating gas mask fit tests accounted for a disproportionate majority of mission tasks during drill weekends,” said Nehil Desai, Air Force Medical Readiness Agency representative. “We considered that a problem and decided to automate the fit testing process for the gas mask.”

Not only does the modernized and user-friendly technology of the new gas mask fit testing machine save time, but the operational change also enhances flexibility within the joint-service environment and pushes Joint Base MDL to align with the Air Force Chief of Staff initiative, Accelerate Change or Lose.

“Airmen have performed the Air Force’s five core missions superbly while executing almost three decades of near-continuous combat operations in relatively uncontested environments. Past success, however, is no guarantee of future performance. Absent change, our Nation will assume increasing risks to our mission and our forces,” said Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Gas mask fit testing is an important step in ensuring the safe use of respiratory protection against chemical and biological warfare, which is a growing focus for the Air Force Medical Service. The new cutting-edge machine is just one of many Joint Base MDL modifications supporting the AFMS and implementing Agile Combat Employment to enhance joint force readiness.