Fiber optic cables are found everywhere, from X-ray
collimators to OR microscope controls to the network backbones that whisk patient information between floors. That’s why it’s important to learn how to work with optical fiber, how to test it for quality, and how make a quick repair when it breaks. It’s even more important for BMETs on U.S. Navy ships.

f03a.jpg (10799 bytes)Think you’re having a bad day? Consider your BMET buddies thousands of miles at sea aboard U.S. Navy ships. They are responsible for maintaining a 42-mile fiber optic network in Sick Bay and beyond. They’re using epoxy splices so the constant vibration from the ship’s engines doesn’t jiggle connections loose. They know that occasionally a shipboard welder slicing through a bulkhead may sever the fiber optic cable inside. Then, of course, they must be prepared for combat when an incoming missile could disrupt the fiber optic network “just a skosh.” Feel better about working in a land-based hospital?

Education is always important, but never more critical than when you’re about to embark on maintaining and repairing a fiber optic system that is the backbone of communications, essential to image management and the smooth functioning of most of the equipment in your domain. There are several commercial training programs, some on-line and some on-site, where you can learn about the physics of light, construction of cable, maintenance activities and how to make those “quick and dirty” repairs.

“BMETs need to know the basics of how fiber is constructed, basic termination techniques and how to do emergency splicing,” says Jeff Dominique, 3M Certified Instructor at Fiber Network Training (FNT) in Phoenix. “When the network goes down, you call the contractor and you may get one out there in 72 hours.”

Do you see a fuming physician over your shoulder?

Instructors from FNT have worked with BMETs in hospitals throughout the country, taking their training program “on the road” if there are at least ten participants. FNT’s on-line course is a total of four sessions that cost $49 per student for each session. There is an additional $59.00 per student charge for certification testing with CEUs. A complete class at their Arizona facility is $500.

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