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Public Health: First step is prevention

While many see public health professionals as just health inspectors, their office offers a variety of services meant to prevent disease and disability.

Latrine inspections, food inspections, and animal avoidance prevention, are just a few ways the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group public health office keeps Al Dhafra Air Base safe.

“By providing preventative measures, we try to limit the number of people that end up in the clinic,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandi Perryman, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group noncommissioned officer in charge of public health. “If we do our job, nobody knows we did our job.”

During latrine inspections public health ensures the facilities are clean, have running water, adequate supplies, and follow a cleaning schedule. Signs posted in latrines governing hand washing and cough etiquette are a part of a base wide education initiative ran by public health designed to reduce health risks for service members.

According to Perryman, while all inspections hold the same priority, food inspections are much more in-depth. Public health inspects all phases of food handling operations.

“Since we’re involved with food handling practices, that could potentially affect everyone on base, it’s imperative that we follow strict guidelines outlined in the Air Force adopted food code,” said Senior Airman Erika Battles, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group public health technician.

Taking food temperatures certifies all food is cooked within safety guidelines, in addition, the public health office ensures the food handlers are washing their hands, using gloves, and following all provisions within the Air Force adopted food code promoting appropriate food handling practices.

With assistance from the pest management section of the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, public health also aids the regulation of animal control and animal quarantine; a task normally covered by other organizations in-garrison.

“That’s out of our scope a little bit but we have to do it in a deployed location,” said Perryman. “You don’t think of a rat as being much until it gets sucked through an aircraft, and that causes millions of dollars in damage.”

While remaining dedicated to the mission, public health protects the health and well-being of all service members assigned to ADAB.

“Pride is every part of our operations,” said Perryman. “With all of the things we try to prevent – we do our job really well so they don’t become an issue.”

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub (www.didvshub.net). The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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Enforcing standards, enhancing standards