In the bag: CWDE techs manage live-saving gear
By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rojek, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2007
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When trudging home from inprocessing with two 35 pound bags full of chemical warfare defense equipment, most people may not be thinking, "Thank you!"
But the fact of the matter is, the men and women of the 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron's CWDE section issue the equipment that saves lives.
"With Osan being geographically located so close to potential conflict, being ready and having prebuilt bags for contingencies makes us 'Ready to Fight Tonight!,'" said Staff Sgt. Eric Bradley, 51st LRS inprocessing supervisor.
The bags are both "real-world" C-bags and exercise A-bags. The C-bag contains sealed chemical gear, including items like the JSLIST suit, gloves and inserts, boots, gas mask canisters and M-291 decontamination kits. The A-bag contains similar items that are for exercise use only, and also a Kevlar helmet, web belt and canteen.
"Unit orderly rooms enter new people into the Combat Inprocessing Database," said Sergeant Bradley. "They enter (the names and units), then use the drop-down menus to select the person's sizes."
The sizes relate to three main items: chemical suits, overboots and gas masks. Chemical suits range from small/short to large/long; overboots sizes should be two sizes larger than what Airmen regularly wear; and mask sizes range from short to long. The bags are put together based on this information.
"If a person is a large/regular for the JSLIST suit, we will make sure the bag has a large helmet and large gloves and inserts," said Sergeant Bradley. "If anything is missing or unavailable, we include a nonavailablity letter in the inprocessing folder."
Once the bags and folders are prepared, the CWDE technicians line them up on two tables in the inprocessing room for the briefing. Briefings take place Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. for Osan Airmen, and are by appointment for geographically separated units. The maximum capacity for a class is 45 people due to space constraints.
At the briefings, the CWDE technicians explain the contents of the bags to the inprocessing Airmen. After going over what to look for, like discrepancies between the bag contents and inventory sheet, the Airmen do a quick inventory and try on the gear to make sure it fits. They also fill out and sign their nonavailability letters if there is one in the bag.
"People need to pay attention and make sure the gear fits and it's serviceable," said Senior Airman Daryl Edison, 51st LRS CWDE technician. "I use this analogy at briefings: if you're at a shopping mall trying on sneakers, you're not going to buy shoes three sizes too small. Pay attention to what you are signing for.
"The main thing is, we want everyone to be safe," said Airman Edison.
Because the gear they issue may in fact save the lives of Airmen, the CWDE technicians said they must also be vigilant when preparing the gear.
"It's high-stress, but good stress," said Airman Edison. "We may save people's lives one day."