42nd MDG 'makes the grade' on decontamination training, exam

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- High spirits set the tone as members of the 42nd Medical Group took their In Place Patient Decontamination, or IPPDC, examination Sept. 18.

The examination, administered near the Maxwell clinic's emergency entrance, was the culmination of three days of training by a TCI Corporation employee who came to Maxwell to teach the course and give the examination.

"I came in Tuesday for the three days of training and the exam, and these folks really know their stuff," Brent Fenton said. "With a little fine tuning, they could be almost perfect."

The examination was broken into three time-sensitive areas of consideration: mission capable where four medical group members had to be suited up and ready to administer medical aid; mission complete where the entire decontamination station had to be up and running; and exercise complete.

The 42nd Medical Group IPPDC team performed well for both segments, with a mission capable time of 5 minutes and 42 seconds, and a mission complete time of 10 minutes and 14 seconds. Total time for the complete exercise had to be within 20 minutes, and the team came in at about 18 minutes.

"Overall, the team did very good and is one of the best Air Force bases I have trained," Mr. Fenton said.

Col. Kris Beasley, 42nd Air Base Wing commander who observed the examination exercise, described the actions of his medical group members as "outstanding."

He said it was amazing to see how far the Air Force has come with technology in this field.

"I remember when it was just a tarp on the ground they pumped water into," he said. "It was great to see the outstanding performance of the team and the enthusiasm they displayed. That's what it takes."

The colonel said he hadn't seen an IPPDC examination in about 10 years, and while that team did a good job, 42nd MDG members showed more capability.

Master Sgt. Kelly Bloom, 42nd MDG IPPDC team chief, said team personnel describe their performance as "phenomenal" and are very happy with the way the examination exercise went.

"Throughout all the training, there was never a complaint about the long hours," she said. "Team members, who are not taking leave or breaks until after the Operational Readiness Inspection in October, pulled together to display their ability and competence."

Sergeant Bloom said one of the first things the instructor/examiner cautioned her about was that the training material could be boring, and people tended not to pay attention in class.

"I was able to assure him that would not be the case with this class," she said.

Sergeant Bloom said when she arrived in January, the IPPDC team was already assembled and in place, but due to permanent change of stations, deployments and other changeovers, the team was out of practice. Starting in June, a revitalization began that was needed to get the group ready for the course and examination.

Mr. Fenton, who will next train and examine the medical group at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, said all Air Force bases use the same system so training is universal for all installations.

"The whole purpose of the training is for the bases to be prepared for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive events," he said. "We spent about half the training time on that aspect of protecting the base and its members."

The IPPDC course lasted 16 hours and instructed 42nd MDG members in the proper procedures for putting up the decontamination station and using it. During the examination, Mr. Fenton observed construction of the station and decontamination of one litter patient and one ambulatory patient.