Health & Safety

June 22, 2012

Time for reflection on equipment protection

by Robert J. Kaschak
452d Emergency Management Technician

We should feel confident in our ability to fight in a contaminated environment knowing that we have the proper protective gear and means to successfully combat our enemy but, how do we maintain the equipment we bring to the fight? With millions of dollars in ground assets utilized on multi-threat battlefields, it is crucial that we maintain their usability to ensure our mission capability is not crippled.

If mission equipment suffers contamination, it must be isolated for threat of cross-contamination and no longer serviceable until decontaminated. To minimize the threat, Airmen are continuously educated on how to protect assets during wartime situations and if contaminated, how to procure materials and institute processes that allow for continued use of equipment

Here are few basic rules to follow concerning contamination:

  • Know what resources you have and where they are.
  • Develop plans to protect the assets during times of attack. If at a deployed location, adjustments may be necessary, but it is much easier to tweak a plan, than start from scratch.
  • Determine what is mobile and can be moved under protective cover. Since stationary equipment cannot be moved, try to cover as much of the exposed areas as possible. Although there are several options, one of the most utilized items for protection is plastic.
  • Ensure you have enough protective covering available to secure all equipment that requires protection. Check with your unit Emergency Management representative if you are not sure and he/she will be able to assist you in that area.
  • Keep in mind that moving and covering the assets requires manpower and time, so understanding what is required is crucial when executing defense postures in a threat condition.

Performing duties relative to protecting equipment should be part of the unit’s checklist. Now is the time to scrutinize those checklists for accuracy and realism. The Airman’s Manual (Airman’s Manual, p.62), provides specific guidance on protective measures. In general, pallets require three layers of plastic and everything else requires two.

Here is what to do for a pallet:

  1. Place M8 paper on all four corners and tape down using masking tape. Ensure you annotate the time and date on the tape, not the M8 paper.
  2. Add a second layer of plastic and M8 paper with time and date,
  3. Install netting,
  4. Add two additional layers of plastic ensuring M8 tape is clearly and  properly marked.

Here is what to do for other types of containers and equipment:

  1. Double wrap using the same technique.
  2. Ensure donnage is placed between the layers of plastic to preclude plastic sticking.

Canvas, tarpaulins or other specialized covers will also provide protection for equipment.

Wind may cause havoc with the materials, so secure thoroughly and tuck excess under the asset. The layered approach is designed to deter chemical permeation from reaching the asset thereby allowing for reuse after the attack is over if post-attack inspection reveals it is safe for use.

Units such as Maintenance and Civil Engineers, pose huge challenges with the protection process due to the amounts and types of equipment they utilize to execute their mission. Heavy equipment machinery, and various pieces of support equipment will be odd shaped and require some adeptness in covering and securing.

Adhering to these concepts and being cognizant of your mission requirements will go a long way towards safeguarding your assets for continued usability in worse case situations.  No one ever said this type of warfare would be easy, but it is winnable. In addition, remember, we win as a team, and that means all of us being knowledgeable, participating, and helping each other through the shortfalls. Maybe not rocket science, but certainly a consolidated dedicated effort by team March.




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