Little Rock helping put LIDS on decon

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Airmen from four major commands converged here this week to test the effectiveness of a new decontamination system during an exercise ending today.

The team, including officials from Air Mobility Command and Air Force Special Operations Command, is testing how the Lightweight Inflatable Decontamination System can effectively accomplish aircrew and groundcrew contamination control area personnel processing operations.

The test was initially scheduled to take place at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Little Rock stepped up and ably took the test’s challenge, said Thomas Graham, AFSOC Civil Engineer Readiness chief.

“We couldn’t pull this off without Little Rock’s Support.” he said. “Every person has been outstanding with attitude and their efforts are commendable. It’s obvious that this is a team and these guys have great support from their commanders.

“They are all go-getters and they have given us 100 percent with absolutely no glitches,” Mr. Graham said.

The 28th Test Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is sponsoring the test.

“We’re asking the Air Force to test [LIDS] against the existing CCA (contanimation control area) processing procedures to see if it in fact it does result in people being able to process from MOPP-4 contaminated environment into a clean environment,” Mr. Graham said. “Ultimately the test results will provide the major commands with a fielding recommendation to be able to pursue procurement of the system.

“The advantage we see to LIDS is it’s a lighter, quicker and cheaper way to meet the mission requirements,” Mr. Graham said.

Approximately 120 people will process through the LIDS system during the test. The test will decon five different suits: two variations of the ground crew ensembles, level-A hazardous material suits, air crew ensembles and fire fighter ‘J-Fire’ suits.

The LIDS system comes in one box weighing approximately 1,300 pounds that includes five inflatable stations, lights, generator, blower and weights.

“This system is another tool to support decon procedures,” said Bobby Clarke, LIDS representative. “This system can be set up in 20 minutes by six people. Our charter was to make a system that is lightweight and easy to move so you could put a couple on one pallet and move it to another location as needed.”

The test measures how well the LIDS system meshes with current Air Force decontamination processes.

“This is a technology that we think has a lot of merit in improving what we have already fielded,” said Mr. Graham. “We’re using current Air Force approved CCA procedures and adapting them to this system.”

Mr. Graham said test participants were sprayed with a simulated contaminate and went through each CCA step and procedure to see whether or not any contamination exists at the end of the line. At the end of the decon procedures, participants will walk though an ultra-violet black-light room to see if any of the simulated contaminate is on their suits.

“The thrust of the test is to effectively remove people from a MOPP-4 contaminated environment to a clean environment,” Mr. Graham said.