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NEWS | March 15, 2011

Preventive Medicine: combating the silent enemy

By HM3 Kyle Hilden and Jeff Kelly Naval Health Clinic Charleston

From the battle of Antietam, to the blood soaked coral islands of the Pacific, to the battle stricken city of Fallujah, disease has caused more deaths to military forces than actual combat injuries.

Today, United States Navy Hospital Corpsmen Preventive Medicine Technicians are leading the way against this silent but deadly enemy. The responsibilities of PMTs are diverse and manifold, but force health protection always remains their primary mission.

At Joint Base Charleston, PMTs from Naval Health Clinic Charleston combat this "silent enemy" on a daily basis by conducting inspections of service facilities and providing training to base personnel.

In order to mitigate the risk of food borne disease outbreaks on the base, PMTs provide regular food service training to supervisors and workers responsible for serving food and also conduct monthly inspections of these establishments. It is the responsibility of the PMTs to educate people about the relationship between hand washing, general hygiene, food temperature and disease.

Additionally, the technicians continually perform inspections of berthing, service and recreation facilities such as the Child Development Centers and base pools, barber shops and play grounds to ensure safe and sanitary conditions for patrons.


"Education is a key weapon. When people have the right information, they are armed to fight the disease," stated Hospital Corpsman second class Michael Bigelow, a PMT at NHCC. "When personnel do get infected with a communicable disease, the Preventive Medicine Department ensures they receive the appropriate treatment and counseling and the appropriate agencies are notified."

The Preventive Medicine Department handles a multitude of other responsibilities such as shipboard sanitation inspections, pest surveillance and deployment readiness. If you have any questions concerning the NHCC Preventive Medicine Department or are interested in becoming a Preventive Medicine Technician please contact NHCC at (843) 894-6560.