WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Twenty-one Soldiers from 8th Theater Sustainment Command and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) participated in Field Sanitation Training March 20-24 at the Installation Digital Training Center here.

Field Sanitation Training is a 40-hour course, designed to establish Level 1 Preventive Medicine Assets within the unit. It prepares Soldiers to fight some of the biggest threats to operational and combat power in the Pacific theater such as dengue fever, malaria and gastrointestinal disease, which are all preventable diseases.

"It helps us when we're out in the field and base-camping to be more sanitary and be more knowledgeable of our environment so that nobody gets sick," said Sgt. Austin Jones, a recovery noncommissioned officer for expeditionary support with DPAA.

The course provides the necessary tools for NCOs to be assigned field sanitation as an additional duty, so they can regulate and oversee their environment when at a field training exercise or overseas mission and educate others as to proper practices.

"Here in the TSC, we have lots of companies that go all over the world, smaller units that go to different exercises and operations throughout the Pacific and we only have one environmental science officer," said Capt. Samantha Reid, the force health protection officer and ESO for the 8th TSC.

"Instead of trying to create a tremendously large MOS of enlisted Soldiers, the Army's medical department decided to delegate the authority for training down to the ESOs and to senior NCOs within the 68S field," Reid said. "That way we can take a little of the subject-matter-expertise that we have, and train the Soldiers and give it to them at the company level."

The first three days of training saw the class participating in lectures and briefings about different categories of sanitation concerns, such as hygiene, insects, diseases, and hot and cold weather injuries.

The fourth day required the students to work through small group projects, where the students are given a scenario and required to assess threats within them, followed by hands-on tasks such as water purification tests and wet-bulb globe temperature measures for determining the heat index. The course wrapped up on the fifth day with the final written exam.

Jones said he enjoyed the training and will be able to use it when he is out on mission.

"I learned a lot about the different insects and the diseases. I didn't realize how many diseases a lot of these insects carried," Jones said. "That's going to help out a lot."

"We're in a pretty high-risk geographical location," Reid added. "There are a lot of risks that we need to mitigate. It's in our best interest to make sure that we remain fully deployable and be able to mitigate those risks within the smaller units."