Contamination avoidance protects Air Force assets

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Contamination avoidance is vital to protecting personnel and equipment in a nuclear biological and chemical threat environment. It can also be placed under close scrutiny by Operational Readiness Inspection inspectors, so it is important that all base personnel are familiar with the concept of contamination avoidance.

It is a broad area that includes all of the actions people can take to minimize the impact of Nuclear Biological Chemical contamination on Air Force operations. Successful avoidance measures significantly reduce, and often prevent, personnel, equipment, vehicles, aircraft and cargo contamination.

Operational advantage is gained through a more rapid reduction of protective measures and a reduced requirement for personnel and equipment decontamination. Measures include actions such as limiting contamination entry into facilities, detecting, identifying and predicting contamination and marking contaminated items.

The most effective way to avoid contamination is to prevent an asset from becoming contaminated in the first place. Develop low or no-cost standard operating procedures to put equipment that is not being used under overhead cover. If the equipment cannot be placed under overhead cover, wrap or conceal it with at least two layers of barrier material to prevent contamination.

NBC agent detection and identification activities provide commanders with the information needed to determine protective postures and to tailor protective actions to the specific agent threats. Early detection is paramount to contamination avoidance and decontamination procedures.

NBC contamination hazard prediction allows commanders to determine the probable effect of contamination on current and future operations. Civil engineer emergency management specialists use computer programs and manual hazard plotting to predict the location, movement and persistency of contamination.

Once contamination is located, it must be marked to notify others that precautions are required. Marking plays a big role in contamination avoidance and can significantly reduce the spread of contaminants by identifying areas, vehicles, aircraft, equipment or material to avoid or decontaminate.

With a general knowledge of contamination avoidance, people stand a greater chance of survival in an NBC environment. They will also fare better during Operation Readiness Inspection and the exercises testing their ability to survive and operate.

For more information on contamination avoidance, people can call the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight at 316-759-3576.