DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Whether it’s by collecting hundreds of mosquitos on a hot, humid day or ensuring Airmen and their families are up-to-date on their immunizations, the health and safety of Dyess personnel is the 7th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight’s first priority.
These Airmen are responsible for duties such as educating the base populous on safety procedures, conducting food inspections and investigating hazardous materials and sanitation standards.
“Our main purpose here at Dyess is to prevent various diseases and illnesses from spreading throughout the base,” said Tech. Sgt. Clay Thompson, 7th AMDS public health chief.
Public health consists of two main elements: community health and force health management. Each element consists of many different sections, which encompass the broad spectrum of what these Airmen do.
“Force health management consists of the individual medical readiness and preventative medical assessment programs whereas community health deals with the animal bite program, the sexually transmitted infections program, food inspections and much more,” Thompson said.
Thompson explained that there are several different departments in public health including the deployment readiness section. Public health technicians who run this section have the responsibility of ensuring Airmen are medically cleared before they deploy.
“The most rewarding part of this job for me is being able to take part in the mass deployments,” said Airman 1st Class Jarod Eberdong, 7th AMDS public health technician.
Before a deployment, Eberdong works alongside the Airmen and their unit deployment manager to ensure these deployers are medically fit and able to remain healthy while overseas and upon their return.
“In these 120 days, Eberdong works with the deploying Airmen to make sure they are completely caught up on their immunizations, dental exams, mental health assessments and more,” Thompson said. “He is dealing with all of these Airmen until each one of them has been medically cleared and they leave on their deployment.”
On a daily basis, this flight processes approximately 30 patients. Patients may see public health for a variety of appointments in different sections including audiology, entomology, occupational health and more.
“Our job is to protect the population of Dyess Air Force Base,” said Airman 1st Class Kelly Dunn, 7th AMDS public health technician, who works in the entomology section.
Entomology is the study of insects. This section of the public health flight deals with the insects and pests on base that impact human health.
One example of insects on Dyess AFB that have a negative effect on human health is mosquitos. Dunn explained there are numerous mosquito traps set up around parts of the base with a high volume of mosquitos during the warm season.
Mosquitos are trapped and sorted out by gender. The females are frozen then sent off to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to be examined for diseases such as the West Nile Virus, malaria, yellow fever and more.
Although it consists of many different elements, the overall goal of public health is to protect the base populous and their families from illnesses and diseases.
“We are here to make sure that everyone on this base is constantly healthy, fit and ready to fight,” said Thompson.