Public health keeps pods sanitary during OAR

  • Published
  • By Airman Jared Lovett
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

During Operation Allies Refuge, public health technicians from the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron have been keeping the pods sanitary at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Public health technicians go through each pod three times a day to inspect and identify any health risks and hazards.

“We walk around the whole area seeing if there are water bottles, feces, diapers and things like that and notify [Airmen from the 786th Civil Engineering Squadron],” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Courtney Tancos, 86th OMRS public health technician. “They’re having Airmen, volunteers and manpower go through and clean up the trash.”

Tancos said a challenge that comes with having about 4,000 evacuees per pod is cleaning the bathrooms. There are cultural hurdles to overcome as some evacuees are not familiar with porta-potties or toilet paper.

“Making sure they’re not throwing trash in the toilet is a big thing,” Tancos said. “[If trash] or diapers end up in the porta-potties, the contract to clean the inside of the porta-potties can’t come out, and then that area is overflowing until somebody is able to come out and clean.”

In addition to removing health hazards, the team, which contains 22 members, is making sure each pod has handwashing stations and other things to keep everybody healthy.

“I appreciate what everyone involved is doing, more than just the public health team between the food team and the security forces members, making sure [the evacuees] are safe,” said Staff Sgt. Ivan Velazquez, 86th OMRS public health technician. “This is how much the mission means for us and means to them, making sure that they are safely getting from one place to the next.”