For eight months, Fort Leonard Wood’s on-call clean teams have been assisting the installation’s population in COVID-19 risk mitigation measures.
Each of the three training brigades on post — the 1st Engineer Brigade, 3rd Chemical Brigade and 14th Military Police Brigade — has a team, along with the Marine Corps Detachment. Each team consists of 11 service members and they rotate on-call duties weekly.
According to Pat Daniels, who acts as the clean team liaison between General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital’s Department of Public Health and the post’s workforce, the role of the teams has been focused on large areas.
“We go in and disinfect common areas, congregational areas as requested,” he said. “If it’s your office, we typically do not send a clean team. We tell everybody to clean their own offices. Or, if you can, close the office — don’t go in there for four days. We’ve been using that timeframe since the beginning. After four days, you should be fine. On surfaces that see fluctuations in heat, sunlight, the virus doesn’t survive longer than that.”
Daniels said he still gets a lot of questions about how people should be cleaning, what they should be cleaning with and when they should be cleaning.
“Use something that has chlorine bleach,” he recommended. “You don’t have to put straight bleach on anything, though. Just clean how you would normally clean with water and bleach. Maybe use a sanitary wipe to wipe your keyboard down. Follow the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.”
In April, the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School’s Hazardous Materials Dismounted Reconnaissance Department trained the first group of Soldiers at the Lt. Joseph Terry CBRN Responder Training Facility who could be called upon to disinfect barracks and office areas.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Henderson, a firefighter training developer assigned to the 1st Engineer Brigade’s Directorate of Training and Leader Development, has been leading his brigade’s clean team since the beginning. He said having a fire rescue background helped him prepare for this detail.
“It’s about understanding the sheer size of the area we’re assigned to clean,” he said. “We’re scrubbing down everything we possibly can to make sure we’re killing the virus as effectively as possible, but with so much protective gear, it gets warm really quickly and wears on our troops. We don’t want to keep them in there too long because there’s a potential that the cleaning may become ineffective. When you start to get tired, your work isn’t up to that standard you need it to be. So, we definitely had to learn how to keep our team rotating.”
For more information on how best to disinfect an area, or to request a clean team, Daniels said to first call Public Health at 573.596.0518. However, he added that following a few simple guidelines will also help with continuing to limit the spread of the virus.
“When we have an incident and we go back and ask questions, we find that people were not wearing their mask when other people are around,” he said. “Or they’re coming in and coughing on their equipment or they’re coughing on their hands and touching the microwave or the coffee machine everyone else uses.”
Daniels recommended that all service members, civilian employees and family members continue to follow the three Ws: wash hands for at least 20 seconds, wear masks and watch distance.
“Some of these things are simple,” he said. “Hygiene is simple; we just need to do it.”