NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - Having or not having properly maintained instruments can mean life or death for Airmen and their families depending on medical professionals to treat them for an array of medical conditions.
The 99th Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment specialists go to great lengths to ensure doctors at the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center have the tools necessary to ensure medical procedures result in success.
These Airmen are responsible for installing, inspecting, repairing, and modifying more than $50 million worth of equipment used on a daily basis at Nellis and Creech AFBs, Nev.
“Our career field is essentially the foundation of everything that happens in the hospital,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Colica, 99th Medical Support Squadron Biomedical Flight NCO in-charge. “If there is no one to repair the medical equipment, it would be inoperable, which is essentially life threatening because patients and healthcare providers rely on the equipment that we maintain.”
Although the biomedical maintenance shop is located within the medical center, their location does not limit the biomedical equipment Airmen to one place.
The 99th MDSS Biomedical Equipment Flight also supports the 58th Rescue Squadron, 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron, the Nellis and Creech Automated External Defibrillator Program, the health and wellness center and many other units on base that have various types of medical equipment.
“Due to all of the units we support, our shop is the largest in Air Combat Command,” Colica said. “We currently have 17 active-duty Airmen and two civilian contractors working in this shop, whereas other bases would only have two to three biomedical equipment Airmen.”
According to the Air Force website, some of the biomedical equipment specialist’s career tasks include maintaining dental operatory systems, steam sterilizers, electrocardiographs, defibrillators, physiological monitors, anesthesia systems, ventilators, clinical chemistry analyzers, fixed and mobile X-ray systems, and field support equipment and computers.
Not only is the career field important, it saves the Air Force money.
“When a piece of medical equipment is inoperable, the Air Force has to refer patients to doctors off base, which costs the Air Force [money],” Colica said.
For many Airmen, the stress of the job is far less significant than the feeling they get when they repair a piece of equipment that can have a direct impact on base operations.
“Knowing that the equipment I maintain comes in contact with every patient, and that every patient usually relies on this equipment is rewarding,” said Airman 1st Class Kassandra Jarvis, 99th MDSS biomedical equipment specialist. “Knowing that I could potentially save lives is the greatest part of this job.”
Whether the biomedical equipment Airmen are working on fixing a computed tomography machine, or a sterilization machine that’s used during surgical procedures, performing their job can be the difference between life and death.