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FEMA selects 123rd Medical Group for training on new biohazard system

Members of the 123rd Medical Group train using the Reeves Decontamination System during the April drill. The unit was hand-selected by FEMA to receive the equipment.

Members of the 123rd Medical Group train using the Reeves Decontamination System during the April drill. The unit was hand-selected by FEMA to receive the equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Max Rechel.)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Members of the wing's 123rd Medical Group are enhancing their homeland-defense skills by training on a new chemical and biological decontamination system.
 
The Kentucky Air Guard unit was hand selected by officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to receive the Reeves Decontamination System, a portable station that allows Airmen to clean themselves of chemical or biological hazards before providing care for up to 100 casualties.
 
"The system is a self-contained mobile decontamination unit, consisting of tents, water warming, water pressure equipment and decontamination uniforms," explained Lt. Col. Bill Adkisson, a physician's assistant in the medical group.

Twelve members of the unit were initially trained on the system this spring.

Under typical conditions, three four-person teams are required to operate the system, Colonel Adkisson explained.

"One sets up the compressor, another runs the heating system and the third dons decontamination suits, which have air systems built in them.

"The requirements are to set this up in a reasonable amount of time. From start to finish, it should be set up in 12 minutes."

Colonel Adkisson said the system can be used for liquid or aerosol contaminants of any kind, including chemical warfare agents. Its use is not, however, limited to wartime
scenarios.

"This system could be deployed for any number of stateside missions, like a chemical truck spill on the interstate that may have caused some injuries from contamination," he said.

Now that members of the medical group are familiar with the system, they will begin training other members of the wing in its use.

"It doesn't have to be medics that run this," Colonel Adkisson said. "As a matter of fact, we need to be able to respond any time during the week or on drill weekends, no matter what."