Back in the Lab
By Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 04, 2015
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 92nd Medical Support Squadron Medical Laboratory on base does many things to assist and contribute to the mission at Fairchild AFB.
The lab provides doctors and other medical providers with test results ranging from blood analysis to urine or stool samples and supports the Homeland Defense-Chemical, Biological, Radiological mission in the form of the Biological Augmentation Team. They can also test for many different diseases and assist with deployments by testing for current vaccines.
"We test for Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, which are vaccines that you get at basic training; but, if for some reason it didn't take, you may need a booster shot," said Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Tisdale, 92nd MDSS noncommissioned officer in charge of the laboratory. "So, we check to see if the vaccine is still present in the body. If not, the immunizations clinic can provide a unique vaccine to get you ready to deploy."
The average turnaround time for test results is less than two hours, with the majority of tests taking between 30 minutes to an hour.
Depending on the type of test, the results would be conveyed from different sections within the laboratory.
The lab consists of six sections: hematology, urinalysis, microbiology, clinical chemistry, serology and shipping.
"The first step for most of the sections when starting up is performing quality control," said Senior Airman David Gehring, 92d MDSS medical laboratory technician. "This is to make sure the analyzers used for testing are functioning properly and able to get an accurate reading."
According to Tisdale, quality control tests use a material that looks like a blood sample. The material has pre-determined results in order determine if the analyzer is operating properly. After ascertaining the range the technician either proceeds with the tests or troubleshoots the analyzer to achieve a proper range.
A special mission of the lab, the Biological Augmentation Team, is responsible in the detection of biological agents in response of a CBR attack that may harm the base. This requires extensive three-week training and is a deployable asset that can go anytime.
All sections of the lab share a similar purpose, but can function independently. There are however, certain situations where they work together, such as blood being found in urine or a high kidney function panel.
"I think it's interesting when you see something, maybe it's a pregnancy, as a lab tech I'm the first person to know what's going on with the patient even before the doctor," said Gehring.