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Readiness team provides Airmen with chemical warfare gear

Tom Weise, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, dries off an M50 gas mask after it has gone through a gas mask washer, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Many bases still use the hand washing method but Scott AFB is able to wash multiple masks at once to save time.

Tom Weise, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, dries off an M50 gas mask after it has gone through a gas mask washer, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Many bases still use the hand washing method but Scott AFB is able to wash multiple masks at once to save time.

Tom Weise, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, places M50 gas masks in metal baskets before putting them in the gas mask dryer, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The dryer allows the gas masks to be put back out for distribution quicker than if they were air dried. This enables more Airmen to be able to get equipment all at once.

Tom Weise, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, places M50 gas masks in metal baskets before putting them in the gas mask dryer, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The dryer allows the gas masks to be put back out for distribution quicker than if they were air dried. This enables more Airmen to be able to get equipment all at once.

Mark Lawrence, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, checks to make sure equipment is being placed in its proper location, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. This helps the team provide gear quicker for their customers. On any given day, IPE will sign out equipment to as many as 200 people.

Mark Lawrence, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, checks to make sure equipment is being placed in its proper location, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. This helps the team provide gear quicker for their customers. On any given day, IPE will sign out equipment to as many as 200 people.

Christopher Greene, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, adjusts the straps on an M50 gas mask while it is placed over a Joint Service Mask Leakage Tester, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The gas mask tester ensures that the gas mask is able to get a good seal while someone is wearing it. This ensures harmful chemicals cannot seep through the mask while it is on the wearer.

Christopher Greene, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, adjusts the straps on an M50 gas mask while it is placed over a Joint Service Mask Leakage Tester, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The gas mask tester ensures that the gas mask is able to get a good seal while someone is wearing it. This ensures harmful chemicals cannot seep through the mask while it is on the wearer.

Christopher Greene, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, makes sure all the parts of the M50 gas mask are attached before placing it back on the shelf, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. After all of the parts of the gas mask are put back and it is tested, the mask can stay on the shelf for three years without being used before it has to be tested again.

Christopher Greene, 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist, makes sure all the parts of the M50 gas mask are attached before placing it back on the shelf, Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. After all of the parts of the gas mask are put back and it is tested, the mask can stay on the shelf for three years without being used before it has to be tested again.

Tom Weise retrieves protective gear for Staff Sgt. Adam Heiman in preparation for an exercise Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.  Airman receive the life-saving Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear before deployments or for training purposes. Weise is a 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist and Heiman is a 126th Air Refueling Wing crew chief.

Tom Weise retrieves protective gear for Staff Sgt. Adam Heiman in preparation for an exercise Jan. 28, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Airman receive the life-saving Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear before deployments or for training purposes. Weise is a 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment specialist and Heiman is a 126th Air Refueling Wing crew chief.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --

The first thing that customers notice as they enter any Individual Protective Equipment warehouse is the smell of sanitizers and other cleaning materials that leave a faint stinging sensation on the tip of their nose.

It comes from the rows of shelves holding bins filled with M50 gas masks, carbon-lined jackets and pants, rubber gloves and boot covers as well as chemical-agent detection kits. The gear is worn under “battle rattle” which includes a helmet, web belt, body armor and armor plates, and all of it is to protect an Airman’s life while in combat environments.

MOPP, or Mission Oriented Protective Posture, gear is worn in toxic environments such a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack, and a small team of IPE personnel assigned to the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron ensure anyone deploying to a war zone has the best gear to protect themselves.

That team is part of the375th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Material Management Flight and John Divine, the asset manager, explained, “The main purpose of IPE is war readiness.”

On any given day, IPE will sign out equipment to as many as 200 people for that purpose. Chuck Self, IPE specialist, said during the January wing mobility exercise, the staff practiced their ability to accommodate the needs of 250 people with the equipment they would need for their deployment.

“We are training for the real thing every time,” Divine said. “We are issuing what we would actually issue out if something really did happen. That way people can see what our true capabilities are.”

Divine said it is important to keep the equipment in good condition to prolong its shelf life, and unlike many bases which still hand wash their masks, Scott’s IPE team uses a specially made washer and dryer for their masks.

“Once the mask goes through the washer and dryer, my guys take it to the back and they polish off any water residue, or anything like that, and they put the mask back together. They put in the new parts and make sure everything is there. The mask is then leak tested before being put back into service. It’s practically like a new mask when you see it again.”

Tom Wiese, IPE specialist, echoed the importance of ensuring the gear is serviceable at all times.

“We are here to protect your body and your life,” he said.

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