The military established new barracks for its biomedical equipment technology programs last year, and in those brand new classrooms, young soldiers, sailors and airmen are getting hands-on experience with X-ray, networking and plain-old hypo/hyperthermia units. We deployed to Texas to take a look at the new facility. Join us as we spend time with the next generation of the biomed industry.

photoA successful military operation must plan for METT-T — Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops and Time — and the Department of Defense Biomedical Equipment Maintenance Technician Training Facility at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, is a classic example of great tactics. It’s mission: to support the medical activities of the world’s largest armed forces. The enemy: downtime. The terrain: a rolling landscape of varying healthcare technology. The troops: a cadre of skilled instructors and a massive force of bright students drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Force. And time: enough to complete the mission. The biomed programs are still among the military’s longest schools.

The school mixes the latest computer-aided instruction techniques with hands-on troubleshooting , and it has retained some of the notorious traditions of the old Air Force and Army/Navy schools (such as the floor-drenching “submarine bug” in the sterilizer block!) Now a year old, 500 students a year will pass through this $14.5 million facility. Against that force, downtime doesn’t have a chance.

f02b.jpg (6259 bytes)Instructional Systems Specialist John W. McCollum, Ph.D., brings many progressive concepts to the military traditions of the school. Dr. McCollum teaches students how to study, how to avoid test anxiety, and even suggests diets that help students stay alert.

f02c.jpg (7659 bytes)Students calibrate a variety of imaging systems, and in the basic X-ray block, this group is preparing to take it’s first shot after positioning a kVp meter.

f02d.jpg (7440 bytes)The first four blocks at Sheppard bring the students up to speed on electronic principles. Instructors are assisted by automated NIDA trainers. These PC-controlled systems allow students to quickly build circuits and then test on what they learned. Here Instructor Mr. Rolando Brown (holding circuit board) gives the group some pointers.
f02e.jpg (7584 bytes)Many of the students are veteran non-commissioned officers, such as Sgt. Michael R. Brady, who is adding X-ray calibration to the combat skills he already learned as an Army Ranger.
f02f.jpg (7648 bytes)Young BMET students quickly become leaders. Here Pvt. Lee Laycon (center) coaches Airman Tirrell Pakemen (left) and Specialist Kirk Cason on the Continental CXD R/F system. Pakeman’s red rope indicates he is a Class Leader in the student squadron.

f02g.jpg (7452 bytes)Airman 1st Class Rachel Walters and Petty Officer 2nd class Jose Pons tune up a GE OEC C-arm.