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NEWS | July 7, 2008

Public Health helps keep Airmen ready, fit to deploy

By Lt. Col. Pamela Smith 437th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander

Are Charleston Airmen getting ready to deploy or participate in an exercise? The 437th Medical Group, with the help of Airmen, ensures Team Charleston is medically fit to deploy.

The Public Health Flight is a key player in coordinating with other flights within the medical group, as well as the wing, in getting all deployers out the door.

The Public Health Flight ensures each member projected to deploy is medically qualified to deploy in accordance with Air Force Instruction 48-123 and the combatant commander's reporting instructions. This begins by screening all medical records while checking for disqualifying medical conditions and the currency of the annual preventive health assessments, immunizations and labs. If any of these items are found to be non-current or the Airman is found to be medically disqualified for deployment, all requirements needed in order to be medically cleared will be sent to the unit deployment manager for the Airman to complete.

Now that they have been medically cleared to deploy, there are a few more items the Public Health Flight provides to ensure Airmen are prepared for deployment. A medical intelligence briefing will be completed on the processing line. This briefing is designed to provide information about the deployed location such as: food and water safety, endemic diseases in the area, dangerous plants, animals, insects, environmental conditions, occupational hazards and precautions needed for protection.

Many of the countries where Airmen will deploy require some type of immunization or antibiotic for preventative measures. Most often this is the case with malaria-endemic countries. The Public Health Flight is responsible for ensuring Airmen are equipped with personal protective equipment such as bed netting, spray to treat uniforms and bug repellant as well as medication taken weekly or daily to prevent infection. The Public Health Flight at home station and in the deployed location will make all efforts to ensure all the resources needed prior and during deployment.

Airmen have an important role in guaranteeing being healthy and fit to deploy. They must be physically, mentally and spiritually fit to deploy. So, stay up-to-date on all medical and dental requirements, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Airmen are the Air Force's most valuable resource -- keep healthy and ready to deploy.