374th Public Health

by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson
374th Airlift Wing

Yokota Air Base, Japan -- Whether you are getting groceries from the commissary, going to the gym or grabbing a new set of ear plugs before work, the 374th Aerospace Medical Squadron Public Health team worked to ensure everything is sanitary and the proper protective equipment is available.

The Public Health department at Yokota runs 17 programs dedicated to the health and safety of the base community by thoroughly working to prevent disease, disability, and premature death.

“Public Health focuses on population level health and stresses prevention at the community level,” Captain Lauren J. Angelo 374th Public Health operations chief.

Regular food, public and workplace facility inspections are performed each month by the Public Health staff adhering to the highest of standards to ensure Team Yokota’s health and safety.

“Our food code covers everything from the slope of a facility’s parking-lot for water drainage and the cooking temperature of food, to food security from aggressors and deployed environments,” said Technical Sgt. Jeremy Hussey, 374th Public Health force health management section chief.

Inspections are also performed at the gym, barber shops, child care and many other public facility’s to ensure the prevention of communicable health risks. Public Health staff also approve and inspect food vendors at base festivals such as the Yokota Friendship Festival.

“It’s all behind the scenes work,” said Major Sandra Aguillon-Sipe, 374th Public Health flight commander. “It’s a thankless job but I love to see the kids and families smiling; they are all out there eating safely because of what our team does; I’m so proud of that.”

Work safety across the base is a large part of Public Health’s focus in ensuring Airman have access and use the proper safety equipment and procedures to safely handle situations in high risk environments such as handling hazardous chemicals or exposure to hazardous noise.

According to Aguillon-Sipe, hearing loss is the number one VA claim for disability; because of this, Public Health regularly monitors the hearing of members working in high noise areas to ensure they have and are using the proper protective equipment. Doing this helps prevent hearing loss and future VA claims.

Public Health plays an important role in humanitarian, natural disasters and crisis situations. For example, during Typhoon Mindulle in August 2016, the Public Health team assessed risks to food, water, sanitation and living quarters for the base populace. Through the Public Health departments strong partnerships they worked with multiple agencies, providing recommendations to help establish what the base population needed during the typhoon to remain safe and healthy.

“Over 326 families were displaced after the typhoon hit and we assisted finding them a clean, safe place to stay,” said Master Sgt. Celina A. Cherry 374th Public Health flight chief. “We educated families, giving them the knowledge they needed to remain safe before, during and after the typhoon.”

Public Health’s risk prevention efforts help build and maintain a strong community and ensure military members are ready for the mission when called upon. With medical readiness being a vital part of the military, it is tracked and monitored by Public Health to ensure members are ready for whatever mission is at hand.

Before members deploy they must go through the Public Health department to ensure they are ready for deployment. Yokota’s Public Health team was responsible for medically clearing over 600 personnel deployments to 30 different geographical locations over the past year. The team also assess members after returning from a deployment to ensure their health and safety.

According to Aguillon-Sipe, sometimes military members are not ready for deployment due to specific medical requirements based on the region to which they are deploying and only find out after they are sent to Public Health. A way to avoid this and potentially give members more time to spend with family before deploying is to regularly maintain their medical readiness online through the ASIMS Unit POC Site, located in the Air Force Portal under Deployments and Readiness.

Anyone planning on vacationing to anywhere in the world can contact Public Health’s Travel Medicine clinic at 225-5632, and learn what health risks may be involved during their travels. Whether going to Australia or Thailand, families can learn what vaccinations they may need and what precautions to take to prevent illnesses and avoid possible health hazards in their specific area of travel.

If anyone has any community health related questions or concerns they are highly encouraged to contact the Public Health department directly by phone at 225-5311. The Public Health department also welcomes walk-ins and can be found in the main hospital on base.

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