By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rojek, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 24, 2008
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Only 72 hours before the Apollo 13 launch, Ken Mattingly, who was scheduled to be the command module pilot, was grounded because of his exposure to the measles virus. If his symptoms began showing during the crew's lunar mission, it could have made the near-tragic jaunt even worse.
Good health is important to any mission, and even though Mr. Mattingly didn't get a trip to the moon that year, the 30th Medical Group here strives to ensure Team V is ready to launch.
"The mission of the 30th Medical Group is deliver fit fighting forces and families through prevention and primary care, enabling successful Launch, Range, Expeditionary, and Installation Operations," said Col. Joseph Anderson, 30th MDG commander.
Some of the prevention and care is covered by the myriad specialties of the 30th Medical Support Squadron.
The radiology section is one example. Radiologist services are available five days a week, providing interpretation for mammography, x-ray, and ultrasound examinations. Routine examinations are read within 24 hours; much quicker that at most civilian institutions. This quick turnaround allows military members to return to the mission quicker, without giving up quality care.
Medical logistics, biomedical equipment repair, information systems and medical readiness are also important to the launch mission.
"Medical logistics provides critical medical readiness assets to all 30th Space Wing base units, ensuring launch mission success," said Lt. Col. Erich Murrell, the 30th MDSS commander. "Biomedical equipment repair ensures the accuracy of medical care provided by the 30th MDG through the inspection, repair, and calibration of biomedical equipment and support systems throughout the entire 30th Space Wing."
As for information systems, Colonel Murrell said, this office provides the most up to date equipment to ensure providers can give the best care possible to all patients, especially those directly involved in the launch mission. Medical readiness, meanwhile, represents the medical group during the Threat Working Group, providing medical input to the launch mission.
Keeping track of records and documents can be stressful for Airmen, distracting them from their mission. However, the members of the 30th Space Wing can concentrate on the launch mission knowing that their medical records are secure and any specialty care they need will be provided thanks to the TOPA Flight.
The medical group's providers and support staff are also integral to the launch mission. These Airmen and civilians utilize the newest and most efficient technology, distributed by information systems, to treat patients as soon as possible and provide service to active duty, dependants, retirees, and all those directly and indirectly involved with the launch mission.
Like the 30th MDSS, the 30th MDOS has multiple specialties available to ensure a successful launch mission. One of those specialties is the behavioral health flight.
"The behavioral health flight provides assessment and treatment services to Airmen to ensure the highest mental and emotional fitness to execute the mission," said Lt. Col. Anderson Rowan, Life Skills Support commander.
Family advocacy, for example, provides prevention services focused on domestic violence, substance abuse and illegal drug use to promote healthy life styles to maximize mental and emotional fitness as well as to support healthy family which provide the foundation of support to Airmen. And the mental health clinic provides consultation to command to assist in decision making regarding personnel and to support the health and welfare of members under their command.
The optometry clinic provides many services, including fitting and updating of contact lenses to give Airman better peripheral vision to complete the mission and ordering safety glasses for active duty Airmen as well as Department of Defense civilian employees to ensure Vandenberg personnel are safe while accomplishing the mission.
To ensure medical care is present during the launch, the 30th MDG provides ambulance services oversight in case of launch mishaps.
While the main responsibility of the dental flight is to ensure all members are dentally ready in order for them to perform their missions effectively and safely, they have also been hands-on in ensuring a successful launch.
"During a recent launch, the dental clinic even helped keep the launch count on schedule by providing dental tools to the 30th Launch Group, which they used to recover a small part inside the spacecraft cover," said Colonel Anderson. "Without that dental tool, the entire cover would have to have been removed, delaying the launch count."
The Bioenvironmental Engineering is also on the scene, with a representative providing the Emergency Operations Center director with recommendations made using health risk assessments during pre- and post-launch operations. This office also performs downwind monitoring for airborne hazards to ensure the base and local community populace is safe from post-launch atmospheric gases. During post-launch, bioenvironmental engineering performs atmospheric testing of launch facilities to ensure they are clear of health hazards for workers to re-enter the facilities.
Whether they're on site or in the clinic, the 30th MDG provides a variety of services, each of which are important to the launch mission.
"The 30th Medical Group provides full-spectrum of care to the mission, from ensuring the occupational health of the active duty and civilian workers on the pad, to their pre-launch medical clearances, to surveillance of toxic substances during the launch, all the way through to bioenvironmental engineering support of pad recovery in preparation for the next mission," Colonel Anderson said.