Preventative measures keep Yokota Airmen healthy
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan. -- When it comes to illness prevention, Public Health is the filter between health and sickness.
The 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health flight is responsible for observing, controlling and containing possible disease outbreaks at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
It maintains this control by working closely with local health departments in Japan to ensure Yokota is not part of a disease problem in the larger community, said Capt. Kevin Young, Public Health flight chief.
"The local populace is our population, so anything happening either on or off base affects the other," Young said.
Information is shared between Yokota and the off base public health departments, along with reports about possible disease being spread nearby.
"Not that people should live in a bubble or avoid traveling off base, but it only takes one person going off base, getting a virus and hosting it back to base for the disease to infect more service members and families," Young said. "This is why our proactive approach at preventative health is so important."
If a person is coded for disease conditions or the clinic receives a positive in the lab, public health is notified to analyze trends to see if anything is spreading or if there is a potential health threat to the area, Young added.
Keeping the community safe requires more than information coordination. Public health also works hand-in-hand with the 374th Force Support Squadron and Army and Air Force Exchange Service on base to prevent disease, according to Staff Sgt. Nick Warner, 374 AMDS NCO in charge of food and sanitation element.
"We check the safety and health of food in the base facilities," Warner said. "We are all about being proactive."
Public health keeps their eyes on anything that may lead to a mass amount of people getting sick. The inspectors check food expiration dates, storage procedures, cleaning solutions and for possible rodent problems to ensure sanitation in facilities supporting base services.
"Picture the worst case scenario," Warner added. "You walk into a facility and it has grease and grime everywhere, dead insect bodies laying around, add expired food to the mix, bags of dough with rat feces and bite marks. It's exaggerated, but this scene is what we prevent."
Public health also works in the clinic.
"We are the central point of contact for medically clearing service members to deploy or permanently change station and informing them how to stay healthy," Young said.
Public health does what it can to keep Yokota Airmen safe and healthy, whether it is by coordinating current disease information with off base public health offices, conducting food and sanitation inspections or reviewing clinic paper work to ensure a member is healthy before deploying to defend our country.