Correct wear of MOPP gear is critical to safety, survival

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Danyette Washington
  • 8th Civil Engineer Squadron
Many times when it is time to go to Alarm Blue Mission-Oriented Protective Posture 4, we are quickly putting on our MOPP gear and don't have the time to meticulously check to make sure that we are in MOPP gear correctly. Unfortunately, not being in MOPP gear correctly can seriously harm you or even take your life.

There are many mistakes that as a 3E9X1Readiness and Emergency Management technician, I have witnessed with my own eyes. Some even make it in the Airman's magazine, on the internet and even on the 3E9 Community of Practice. That is why it is up to you and your buddy to make sure you and your buddy are correctly dressed. Listed below are some of the mistakes that have been noticed on Kunsan Air Base Airmen.

- Incorrect placement of simulated M-9 tape. Some people don't have M-9 tape at all and many who do have the tape, it's too high on their legs. If the tape is too high on your legs and there is contamination on the ground, there may be a chance that you are contaminated and you don't know it because it didn't get on the tape. Readiness and emergency management at Kunsan AB suggests that you place the M-9 tape between the two straps on your trouser pant legs. Also, some individuals' tape does not make a full loop around their arms, legs or wrists. Please ensure that the tape makes a full loop as any uncovered portion is subject to contamination without the wearers' knowledge.

- Velcro waist and wrist straps undone and gloves not under the sleeve. The Velcro waist straps need to be tightened for a snug fit around the waist. The wrist straps need to be tightened to keep chemicals from getting under the sleeve and contaminating the individual. For effective protection, the gloves need to be under your Chemical Protective Overgarment sleeves. This ensures that if there is any contamination it does not leak down inside of the gloves.

- Velcro neck closure not fully closed and covering the eye lens. The hood needs to be fully closed to keep contamination out. Also, make sure the hood is not covering the eye lens. If the hood covers the eye lens, it can diminish your visibility and can lead to accidents and mishaps.

- Retention cord not used. Some CPO coats have the retention cord sewn into the bottom. If you have the retention cord, when in MOPP 4 you must draw the string between your legs and snap it into the webbing strip in the front of the coat and tie the loose ends in the front.

Another issue Wolf Pack Airmen face when wearing their MOPP gear is potential heat stress. There are a few MOPP Options to alleviate heat stress and for agents that dissipate quickly. These options can only be approved by the wing commander or vice commander. Once placed in a higher MOPP and then returned to a lower MOPP, permission has to be granted again.

The first MOPP Option is the Ventilation Option. Ventilation is when you open your vest and your CPO coat. When placed in a higher MOPP, you must zip your coat and close your vest.

The next MOPP Option is No Battle Dress Uniform or Airman Battle Uniform. With this option, it is imperative to understand that the possibility of cross-contamination is higher. If No BDU/ABU is authorized, please wear your physical training gear or a t-shirt and shorts under your CPO. If you have to disrobe because of contamination, you may not be afforded the privacy you would like.

The last option is the Mask Only Option. This option is only used if the hazard is only a vapor hazard.

Learning to use a buddy when donning MOPP gear and correctly following the commander-directed MOPP Options can save your life. For more information on this and any other readiness preparedness topic, please contact the readiness and emergency management flight.