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Feature Stories

NEWS | June 1, 2017

Medical Detachment guards against disease and injury

By Sgt. Tom Wade U.S. Army Central

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – For centuries, doctors and scientists have fought a war against preventable diseases and injuries. Events such as World War I have made them revisit how medical care is given to Servicemembers on the battlefield and in hospitals. Today’s medicine has advanced to a level where Servicemembers, U.S. Department of Defense civilians and contractors no longer die from easily treatable diseases or injuries.

The 485th Medical Detachment Preventive Medicine continues the fight against preventable diseases and injuries by providing role-three field preventive medicine support and consultation to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Logistics Handbook, role three is a term used to describe how military medical support is organized. This includes how they conduct treatment, evacuation, resupply, and essential functions to maintain the health of the force.

Role three medical units are also capable of providing preventive medicine, food inspection, dentistry, and operational stress management teams.

“Our unit mission is to mitigate disease and non-battle injuries, influenza surveillance, biological and chemical warfare field sanitation, etc. for uniformed Servicemembers, Department of Defense civilians and contractors,” said 1st Lt. Gregory Olds, executive officer,485th Med. Det. PM. “We manage risk on base camps involved in Operation Spartan Shied and some to Operation Inherit Resolve, by providing information to commanders about the air, water and soil contamination levels we sample throughout the region.”

The 485th Med. Det. PM is an Army active duty unit from Ft. Polk, Louisiana. The detachment is staffed by personnel who specializes in biochemistry, environmental science and engineering, entomologist and preventive medicine.

The 485th Med. Det. PM duties include, but are not limited to theater chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear casualty care and training, epidemiological surveillance, water vulnerability assessments and enhance Joint Biological Agent Identification Diagnostic System with environment health capabilities.

“My job is unique because I test for infectious bacteria in stool and blood samples ordered for the combat support hospital,” said Spc. Steve Bell, medical laboratory specialist, 485th PM Det. “This information is important to commanders because they want make sure that their soldiers stay healthy.”

Keeping the force healthy is the primary focus of the 485th PM Det. specialists. More than just health inspectors, preventive medicine specialist lead the way in teaching field sanitation classes, sexually transmitted disease prevention classes, industrial hygiene and entomology.

“As a preventive medicine specialist, we inspect everything from the dining facilities, the barber shops, and the gym,” said Spc. Matthew Hollen, preventive medicine specialist, 485th Med. Det. PM. “We use a checklist to conduct our inspections that ask questions like, is the person who is in charge have the necessary training to manage the employees at the facility; is the persons serving food washing their hands all the times and putting gloves on; are the coolers at the right temperature, etc. because cleanliness is everything.”

The 485th Med. Det. PM. continues the fight started centuries ago to improve medical care among Servicemembers and U.S. DoD civilians and U.S. contractors. They believe that if people continue to drink water, wear sunscreen and wear their uniforms the proper way, units can mitigate preventable disease and non-battlefield injuries.