USAFSAM course concludes with successful radiation assessment field exercise
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The USAF School of Aerospace Medicine’s Air Force Radiation Assessment Team, or AFRAT, completed a three-day training with 37 students in March, culminating in a field exercise at the Warfighter Training Facility here.
This AFRAT basic course builds a foundation of radiation competency, which prepares Airmen to provide a rapid global response in support of nuclear or radiological incidents.
“This course became a formal course at USAFSAM in 2021, but a similar AFRAT training has been offered during Air Force Basic Training since 2009,” said Maj. Phillip Lopez, USAFSAM’s deputy team chief and course director. AFRAT has a notable history as a radiation emergency response function of the Air Force, going back to the 1960s.
During the classroom portion, students learned the science behind radiological incidents, operational command structures implemented in various radiation emergencies, as well as field techniques and best practices. Additionally, instructors brought in guest lecturers with real-world experience such as AFRAT’s response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan.
During the field exercise, students implemented their classroom knowledge alongside seasoned team members for hands-on training.
“The field exercise included health threat assessments, analyses of potential radioactive material, identification of hazardous areas, and personnel exposure monitoring,” said Lopez.
According to Lopez, this training is always evolving to current global conditions. He explained that the lectures and exercise used in this class may not be the same in future classes.
“That is why we are constantly training throughout the year, and partnering with other services so that our personnel can integrate seamlessly when called on for support,” said Lopez.
Like many instructors at USAFSAM, Lopez was once a student and now an experienced instructor.
“Enabling my fellow AFRAT members for our mission is an honor and a humbling experience,” he said. “It is even more fulfilling as we see all the team members talking together, sharing their experiences, and building upon them.”
USAFSAM, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing, is an internationally renowned center for aerospace medical learning, consultation, aerospace medical investigations and aircrew health assessments. USAFSAM promotes readiness and protects force and community health by using a range of tools and expertise including environmental and health surveillance, laboratory and risk analysis, process re-engineering, consultation and technological innovation to maximize operational health capabilities and to solve problems through ingenuity and partnerships. Instructors train approximately 6,000 students each year.