JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
Members of the 437th Maintenance Group began implementation of a C-17 COVID-19 Decontamination Course at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, March 28, 2020.
A team of instructors were selected within the group to help reduce health risks associated with COVID-19 for those continuing to support Air Mobility Command’s rapid global mobility mission during the world-wide pandemic.
“The training helps ensure the safety of maintainers, aerial port personnel, aircrew and passengers,” said Master Sgt. Tyrell Haney, 437th MXG development and instructor section chief. “The expected result is to teach small teams how to properly decontaminate and disinfect an airplane so that airplane can complete its mission.”
The first half of the course involves classroom lectures designed to teach and familiarize Airmen how to execute their local aircraft recovery checklist while operating in a potentially contaminated environment.
“This course covers aircraft recovery procedures, cleaning and disinfecting procedures and responsibilities, as well as the proper way to put on, take off and dispose of hazardous material protective equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Myren Richardson, 437th MXG aircraft maintenance instructor. “My role as part of the team was to build the course, create the lesson plan and teach that information to maintenance personnel in the group.”
Once students learn the material, the training shifts to a hands-on scenario where participants learn how to decontaminate an aircraft through the use of a mock C-17, or aircraft trainer.
“We go through the actual decontamination portion by using CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance and Air Force tech data,” said Hanley. “Finally we go to an aircraft trainer and go in depth on where they will be responsible to clean and actually show them how to complete the process.”
Staff Sgt. Micah Wells, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief and course participant, said the attention to detail instructors have taken in creating the course is useful in ensuring the safety of his team.
“What I take away from this training is learning how to decontaminate the plane,”
said Wells. “It’s necessary for us because we touch a lot of stuff on these airplanes. There’s a lot of switches and buttons and levers so going into that kind of detail is necessary to keep everybody safe.”
Richardson said teaching the course is rewarding and he strives to make each class better than the last.
“It’s a great responsibility,” said Richardson. “At the end of the day, we’re responsible for making sure they know the proper tasks when they’re going out and performing maintenance."
Haney credits his team of instructors with the success of the course and said they will continue to teach people how to be as safe as possible.
"These are unprecedented times,” said Haney. “It’s one thing to fight something you can see, but it’s entirely different fighting something you can’t. The major benefit is we keep our personnel healthy, which in turn keeps our airplanes flying, and ultimately we continue to complete the mission.”