By Airman Hope Geiger, 180th Fighter Wing
/ Published August 05, 2018
Swanton, Ohio -- Each year, countless lives are lost due to the spread of infections in medical facilities. Approximately one in 25 patients are affected by hospital-acquired infection, according to the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
To prevent this, the 180th Fighter Wing Medical Group appointed Staff Sgt. Delaney Preston, an aerospace medical technician, as the infection control noncommissioned officer in charge.
“I was given that role the day I was promoted to Senior Airman,” said Preston. “Our chief nurse at the time created this program to help ensure we’re following protocols and are prepared for any type of infection.”
“Sgt. Preston was chosen as the NCOIC because she always does a great job with whatever task she is given and she showed a lot of interest in the position,” explained Capt. Stephanie Smiddy, a clinical nurse assigned to the 180FW and infection control officer in charge.
Her role is intended to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among Airmen and patients.
“Infection control keeps people safe from different risks from blood-borne pathogens, like HIV hepatitis C and tuberculosis, that we either test for or vaccinate for,” said Smiddy. “This role is to keep us safe, as well as the people we are treating.”
Preston is responsible for ensuring all the rooms get cleaned and disinfected properly, stocking rooms with the necessary cleaning supplies and checking expiration dates, and placing infectious spill kits in each room.
A spill kit, a container filled with everything needed to clean up an infectious spill, includes a mask with an eye shield, pair of gloves, absorbent powder, antiseptic towelettes, wipes, waste bags and a towel.
“An infectious spill can be anything from someone bleeding to somebody vomiting,” Preston explained. “Anything that is a bodily fluid is what we see the most in medical and that’s what we have to be prepared for.”
The medical group sees the most infectious spills in the lab where they draw blood.
“If someone breaks something, something spills, or when drawing blood an accident happens where somebody’s blood comes out of there arm, and it gets on the chair or the floor we have to be ready to clean it up,” said Preston. “It’s not safe to have blood laying around the lab.”
Preston certifies that every room contains the proper cleaning supplies so medical personnel can immediately react to any type of spill.
“In a worst case scenario, if someone were to have an infection, we don’t want that spreading to us or our Airmen,” Preston said. “We need to be able to clean that up immediately. We’re a medical facility so we have to be ready for anything. That’s why we have the kits and the rooms ready.”
At the end each regularly scheduled training weekend she ensures the rooms are properly cleaned.
“We wipe down the tables, blood pressure cuffs and anything that comes in contact with the patients,” Preston explained.
Her responsibilities enhance readiness at the 180FW because the medical group is always ready.
“In a deployed environment you’re going to have a higher chance of coming across someone who has an infection or is going to bring an infection into the medical facility,” said Preston. “Some of the treatment facilities aren’t going to be as nice as what we have at the 180FW, so this really is preparing us to be able to go into the real world and be able to clean up and take care of those infections before they become a bigger problem.”
“We need to be ready and aware of what the hazards could be so that way we can prevent them and if someone was exposed we know what steps to take to minimize the exposure,” said Smiddy.
Preston’s role as the infection control NCOIC establishes that the 180FW medical group maintains the highest levels of proficiency and readiness, and maintains the safest possible environment for Airmen.