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    Medical Unit Monitors Environmental Safety For Nationwide Logistics Exercise



    Story by John Santos 

    361st Theater Public Affairs Support Element

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - While Army liquid logisticians are busy conducting training as part of this year’s Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise in Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., a group of soldiers are making sure that safety remains a central concern to the planners and executers of the exercise. As soldiers sharpen their skills in quartermaster operations, preventive medicine professionals are busy keeping the environment safe for training.

    QLLEX 2014 is a joint forces annual training opportunity at eight locations across the continental United States, where 64 units will deliver more than 3.25 million gallons of petroleum and produce 479,000 gallons of water. The exercise is designed to provide a realistic working environment for troops, as well as challenge and develop military decision making skills. Concurrent operations are also being conducted at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Stewart, Ga., Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Joint Expeditionary Base East, Va. and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., from June 8 through June 19.

    Preventive medicine’s primary mission during the exercise is to test and ensure the safety of the water being purified by the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units that the Soldiers are using to provide water during the exercise.

    “Our mission is the ensure the quality of the drinking water at every level, from the production at the ROWPU site at Gold Beach to the mechanisms that deliver the water from the purification site to the soldiers using it,” said Capt. Seth C. Britch, preventive medicine officer, 342nd Medical Detachment from Gainesville, Fla. “We pay special attention to the containers used to deliver and contain the water because typically, these containers are in storage most of the year. If the container is unused even just for a few days, that container would require recertification.”

    To make sure that his soldiers learn applicable knowledge on real-world requirements they must meet when running ROWPUs during wartime, Staff Sgt. Rick Gutierrez, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 288th Quarter Detachment, from Round Rock, Tex. work hand-in-hand with preventive medicine professionals to ensure water processed in the ROWPU site is safe for use.

    “We use the standards set by the preventive medicine unit to measure how successful our ROWPUs are in purifying water,” Gutierrez. When water is transported, some of the chemicals added to purify the water dissipate into the atmosphere. By knowing the baseline set by the preventive medicine unit, the purification specialists can add enough chemicals into the water to account for the loss during transport, said Gutierrez.

    In addition to monitoring the quality of the water used during the exercise, the unit must also monitor how waste water is disposed. Besides making sure that water runoff does not contaminate the site where the operation is being conducted, the unit must also make sure that environmental concerns are being taken into account.

    “Water runoff must be collected in sites at least 45 yards from showers and latrines, and at least 50 yards from living quarters,” said Spc. Sean Walton, a preventive medicine specialist with the 787th Medical Detachment, New Orleans, La. “Proper disposal must also be used: we make sure anything other than dirty soap water from the showers is not allowed to seep into the soil and the kitchen staff does not allow food and grease to drain with the rest of the waste water.”

    “Since most of the gray water being discarded from the exercise is just water and soap, and the exercise itself is less than thirty days, there is more margin as to what the units can do with the runoff,” said Britch. “But in cases where the operation is more extensive and will be conducted long-term, a more permanent infrastructure must be built to handle to waste. That infrastructure must be able to handle things like waste from machineries and vehicles being used during the operation.”

    Aside from their mission monitoring the safety and quality of water, the medical professionals are also responsible to make sure that the training site is organized to facilitate good hygiene. The unit is typically on the lookout for issues that cause the spread of diseases, such as food-borne bacteria, presence of infected insects and animals, unsanitary showers and latrines and inadequate space between tents and living quarters.

    “Other than the water, we’re doing base camp assessments, site surveillance, watching out for food safety practices at the mobile kitchen units, ensuring units are implementing safety during the operations at all times,” said Walton. “We’re not just looking at soldiers being sick. We’re watching out for everything that could make soldiers combat ineffective.”

    The need to maintain a safe environment becomes more important during wartime missions and exercises, where unsanitary conditions can have a significant impact. “Historically, disease non-battle injury has taken more people off the battlefield than any enemy activity,” said Britch. “Our mission is to prevent these issues before they come up and become a problem.”



    Date Taken: 06.16.2014
    Date Posted: 06.21.2014 11:00
    Story ID: 133920
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 
    Hometown: GAINESVILLE, FL, US
    Hometown: NEW ORLEANS, LA, US
    Hometown: ROUND ROCK, TX, US

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