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AMC hosts aircrew chemical decontamination exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

More than 15 aircrew flight equipment technicians from across Air Mobility Command gathered here July 17 to 21, to train on Aircrew Contamination Control Area processes and procedures during exercise Toxic Arch.

The goal of the exercise is to strengthen the continuity and ability of senior aircrew flight equipment technicians to lead an ACCA in the event decontamination of aircrew members is needed.

“This is the first time AMC has hosted an event of this magnitude and for this specific training,” said Master Sgt. Chris Tennyson, AMC’s lead planner and organizer for the exercise. “This training will help garner confidence among the participants and gives them the tools to take back to their units to ensure their Airmen are accomplishing the mission of ACCA as they learned here.”

On the first day, civil engineers from the 375th Air Mobility Wing provided instruction on using the Joint Chemical Agent Detector to detect and identify the presence of chemical agents.

The following day AFE technicians also received hands-on instruction on the planning, managing, deploying, and assembling of an ACCA and a Lightweight Inflatable Decontamination System. LIDS is a series of eight inflatable stations used to decontaminate the aircrew as they progress through an ACCA.

On the next day the technicians, donning their Mission Oriented Protective Posture-Four gear, processed simulated aircrew members through LIDS, while the aircrew wore a variety of six Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection Systems configurations.

“The ACCA uses AFE technicians as the conduit to mitigate contaminants and streamline aircrew processing, ensuring their safety and ultimate return to the fight as opposed to making the aircrew utilize the buddy system to process through the ACCA,” Senior Master Sgt. Royce McElroy, AMC Aircrew Flight Equipment manager.

Tech. Sgt. Ishmel Bryant, AFE supervisor at March Air Reserve Base, California, said the ‘last attendant out’ process was one aspect he planned to take back to his unit, where he is responsible for training an integrated AFE flight of 50 Airmen monthly.

The ‘last attendant out’ process involves the members manning the LIDS and deconning each other after the aircrew has processed through the line. Persons manning stations one through six will process through those stations and the people manning stations seven through nine process through their stations.

This training is important, specifically for my flight because March is a hub for joint operations, and my team often supports Navy and Army service members, Bryant added.

The five-day training also armed AFE technicians with additional expertise on performing ACCA tasks in a joint environment.

Using a myriad of aircrew configurations, the Airmen received training on mitigate contaminates on different combinations of aircrew protective gear, including a non-helmeted heavy suit, ground crew suit, aeromedical evacuations suit, fighter and Rotary Wing Joint Service Aircrew Mask.

For many this was their first time using the JSAM. 

“The JSAM is the mask of the future for aircrews,” said Matt McMullen, ACCA instructor from Global Strike Command. “The more our AFE technicians see and feel the JSAM configuration, the more efficient they’ll become at working with it.”

ACCA training is a key component to deterrence just as much as it is safety for aircrew survivability, said McElroy.

“The ACCA is the last hurdle aircrew members have to encounter before being able to recuperate for their next mission,” McElroy said.  “This environment is going to be chaotic, mentally, physically and emotionally taxing on the aircrew and AFE technicians. This is the AFE technician’s opportunity to provide leadership, accountability and professionalism as they process aircrew, ensuring America’s greatest Airmen live to fly, fight and win another day.”

The Air Force hosts at least two ACCA exercises annually, which are led by AFE subject matter experts. Headquarters AMC facilitated the training with support from Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters staff. The exercise equipment and personnel support was provided by AFE technicians assigned to the 932nd Airlift Wing and 375th AMW here.