Biomedical has the fix on your health

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Danielle Quilla
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The blood pressure machine beeped as the cuff slowly released the pressure from the patient’s upper arm. Standing at five foot ten inches, the dedicated long distance runner thought this would be a routine check-up. However, to his surprise, the nurse read off the measurement to be 140 over 90. Does this mean stage one hypertension or a machine error?

From installing and repairing to inspecting and calibrating, the biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) have their finger prints on every piece of equipment at the 509th Medical Group (MDG). The MDG supports approximately 57,000 scheduled appointments each year at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

“Every item within the medical group is checked for compliance prior to patient use, which enable the 509th MDG to provide first class care with first class equipment,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Espinosa, the flight chief of medical logistics with the 509th Medical Support Squadron (MDSS).

Currently, the 509th MDSS BMET team consists of Staff Sgt. Pablo Novel-Valdez and Senior Airman Lance Voegtline. Together, they are responsible for maintaining about 1,043 equipment items for daily patient care, including items for the 131st MDG and 442nd Fighter Wing.

“Every month we are provided with a work list of equipment requiring preventive maintenance,” said Novel-Valdez. “Typically, doctors use the devices we maintain to diagnose patients and administer care, if those devices are not maintained properly people can be injured or worse.”

With the ever changing technology landscape, Novel-Valdez and Voegtline dedicate hours to studying the updated manufacture, National Fire Protection Association and industry standards. This allows them to effectively inspect, review and approve all the medical equipment at the clinic.

“The dental clinic has a close working relationship with the BMET team,” said Lt. Col. Theodore Jackson, the chief of dental services assigned to the 509th Medical Operations Squadron. “Under the guidance and mentorship of Master Sgt. Espinosa, Staff Sgt. Novel-Valdez and Senior Airman Voegtline not only meet the high demands we place on them, but consistently exceed our expectations.”

In addition to their routine checkups, the BMETs act as first responders when it comes to equipment failure. They use deductive reasoning to pin point the issue and get the equipment up and running in a timely manner.

“Both are great stewards of the Air Force Medical Service’s Trusted Care Concept of Operations in that they understand that every member of the Medical Group plays an important role in delivery of patient care,” said Jackson. “The pride that the entire BMET team takes in the customer service they provide the dental clinic is clearly evident and greatly appreciated!”

The long distance runner’s situation might sound familiar to some, but preventative maintenance ensured that his blood pressure measurement was correct. The BMETs bridge the gap between engineering and medicine, allowing the medical staff to confidently use the equipment knowing their patients are safe and they are receiving accurate results.