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Buzzing BEEs keep Dover safe

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Medical technicians record your body measurements and temperature, blood pressure and other symptoms or issues, but there's one kind of technician that's protecting your wellbeing you may never meet in person.

The 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering technicians, or BEEs, are commonly known as the Airmen who make sure your gas masks fit correctly, but these busy BEEs handle everything from health risk assessments to evaluating hazards around the base.

"People don't normally think of what they're exposed to that would be hazardous in their work place or deployed environment," said Master Sgt. John Rinker, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering NCO in-charge. "Our assessment evaluates work centers and identifies any hazardous conditions for the health and welfare of Dover (Air Force Base).

"Low-level exposure to chemicals can cause health problems later on, that's why we have specialized equipment that can detect exposure unseen," he said.

BEEs work in a laboratory of plastic tubes, glass vials and bottles, and color-changing chemicals to identify microscopic dangers, but not all of their work occurs inside a lab.

BEEs test areas of Dover AFB, to include the air, soil and water, for any hazardous conditions. The Bioenvironmental Flight produces an annual report, detailing their test results on the water.

"We conduct routine surveys such as industrial hygiene, air and water sampling, ventilation surveys, hazardous noise surveys and personal protective equipment evaluations, and make recommendations based on the findings to ensure safe working conditions," said Sergeant Rinker.

Whether it's a terrorist threat or national disaster, BEEs ensure the safety of Airmen by recommending control risk assessment and responding to most emergencies on base.

Like a colony of bees protecting their hive, Bioenvironmental Engineering BEEs suit up in their personal chemical protective equipment and quickly head to an emergency response call.

"We respond to emergency situations such as a call about a 'suspicious package,' said Airman 1st Class Matthew Henz, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron BEE. "After it is cleared as non-explosive, we go in and detect for radiation and measurements for chemicals and biological agents with our sampling strategy."

BEEs are also expected to be proficient in using a variety of detection devices, some weighing over 100 pounds, at their disposal to detect and identify different toxic agents.

"We play a special role as the health advisor experts to the wing commander, so that requires us to stay on top of our game," said 2nd Lt. William Downs, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering deputy flight commander. "Knowing how to use our detection devices is critical to responding to current ongoing threats, that's why we train to be ready to respond to any incident."