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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2017

628th MDG goes to nuclear power school

By Airman 1st Class Megan Munoz Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Members of the 628th Medical Group (MDG) and the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) came together for a joint training session at the Storm Pointe Conference Center on the Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station, Jan. 27.

Lt. Col. Brian Neese, 628th Medical Operations Squadron commander, first had the idea to partner with NPTU for training after realizing the impact a small mechanical or safety violation could make for both units.

The capstone event  concluded a series of eight seminars held by NPTU. The seminars outlined nuclear power safety principles dictated by Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the first director of Naval Reactors. Rickover delivered the principles in a speech after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. The accident was a partial nuclear meltdown occurring at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

“NPTU is very regimented in how they run things,” said Capt. Chuck Hutchings, 628th MDG pediatrician. “We try to do the same in the medical field but it doesn't always work out because of different variables with patients.”

The 628th MDG's mission is to ensure the health of our joint service personnel, their families and retirees. NPTU provides training for naval and officer enlisted personnel in operations, maintenance and supervision of naval nuclear propulsion plants. Although their missions vary, many of the same principles can be applied to both.

“To us, a loose screw isn't a big deal, but to them, it’s a safety violation and safety is everything,” said Neese. “After learning about Rickover and some of his principles I thought we could apply them to the medical field.”

In the seminars leading up to the capstone, members of NPTU expanded on Rickover’s principles for the 628th MDG Airmen. The main focus was to follow prescribed procedures while avoiding avoid life-and-death situations through attention to detail. At the capstone event members of the 628th MDG demonstrated what they learned by sharing challenges which could have been avoided by following Rickover’s principles.

“I thought the Medical Group attending the training was a great idea,” said Jerry Rolinger, NPTU compliance engineer. “The training started out internally. We’re all proud of what we do, and it’s always exciting to be able to share what little we can with others. By having the Medical Group here we were able to start a working relationship together and strengthen our bond as a Joint Base."