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Trailer allows rapid response to suspected biological agents

  • Published
  • By Matt Tulis
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The 22nd Air Refueling Wing lived up to its motto "We Lead" with a ceremony here Feb. 6, marking the first delivery in the Air Force of a Laboratory Response Team trailer.

The trailer is equipped with a Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System, or JBAIDS for short, providing rapid biological agent analysis in any emergency situation on the installation.

"This trailer gives us the ability to identify 14 different biological agents safely and quickly," said Col. Kerry Dexter, 22nd Medical Group commander, in remarks during the ceremony. "The trailer and its equipment are a self-contained, climate-controlled laboratory with high-tech exhaust hood, clean and dirty sampling rooms and the ability to identify a suspect agent at the DNA level."

Use of the trailer provides two main advantages to the base, said medical experts.
First, is the ability of the 22nd Medical Group to rapidly analyze and identify unknown or suspected dangerous biological agents on-scene, under safe conditions.

The second advantage is the ability to safely analyze suspect or dangerous environmental samples outside of the clinic.

Rapid identification enables commanders to know what they are dealing with and to quickly act to protect and lessen the impact on wing operations, said Tech. Sgt. Tarah Baxley, 22nd Medical Support Squadron.

"The trailer allows us to identify biological agents of medical and operational importance from a variety of sample types," said Sergeant Baxley, who's been stationed here for the past five years. "What we're doing is testing the specific DNA target for biological agents."

Sergeant Baxley estimates she can provide a "presumptive identification" of an unknown contaminant to the commander in 90 to 195 minutes with the capability housed in the trailer.

"With this new system we can pinpoint an agent and tell exactly what it is," said Tech Sgt. Michael Keys, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bio-Environmental Engineering flight. "From there, that leads to getting the information to the doctors, so they can identify and treat the symptoms to abate any further problems."

Previously, said Sergeant Baxley, a sample would have to be sent to the state lab in Topeka, Kan., approximately a two to three hour drive before analysis began.

"It aids greatly in the detection process and speeds up any kind of the clean up issues and gives us an idea of how to clean it up or how to neutralize it," said Sergeant Keys.
By keeping any potential hazards outside of the clinic, responders eliminate risking critical staff, resources and facilities to any sort of contamination, said Sergeant Baxley.

"We can never be complacent no matter where we are in our nation's Air Force," said Brig. Gen. Byron Hepburn, Air Mobility Command command surgeon, during his opening remarks at the ceremony. "This is a key readiness platform for McConnell Air Force Base. We have to always be vigilant, and this is part of that vigilance."

In addition to McConnell, LRT trailers, manufactured by Derby Trailer Technologies located in Derby, Kan., have been delivered to Wright-Patterson, Grand Forks, MacDill, Eglin, Dover, and McGuire Air Force Bases.

(Information provided by Air Mobility Command Command Surgeon)