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M50 gas mask, breathe easy

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Keisha Faw, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron gas mask fit tester, directs Capt. Tony Kasallis, 48th Dental Squadron general dentist, on different exercises to perform when fitting for a gas mask at the deployment center Sept. 22.  A series of five different exercises lasting 40 seconds each, are done to make sure each mask is fitted properly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Keisha Faw, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron gas mask fit tester, directs Capt. Tony Kasallis, 48th Dental Squadron general dentist, on different exercises to perform when fitting for a gas mask at the deployment center Sept. 22. A series of five different exercises lasting 40 seconds each, are done to make sure each mask is fitted properly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Keisha Faw, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron gas mask fit tester, helps Capt. Tony Kasallis, 48th Dental Squadron general dentist, adjust his gas mask at the deployment center Sept. 22.  Gas masks are fit tested for each individual to ensure their effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Keisha Faw, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron gas mask fit tester, helps Capt. Tony Kasallis, 48th Dental Squadron general dentist, adjust his gas mask at the deployment center Sept. 22. Gas masks are fit tested for each individual to ensure their effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – Airman 1st Class Guy Pearson, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment journeyman, references an Airman’s Manual for guidance regarding the M50 Joint Service General Purpose Field Mask Sept. 22. The M50 was first issued in May 2009 and has been fielded by Pacific Air Force and United States Air Forces in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – Airman 1st Class Guy Pearson, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment journeyman, references an Airman’s Manual for guidance regarding the M50 Joint Service General Purpose Field Mask Sept. 22. The M50 was first issued in May 2009 and has been fielded by Pacific Air Force and United States Air Forces in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Exercise, exercise, exercise! For the past couple of weeks, it almost seems as if the base has been going through exercises non-stop. With the operational readiness inspection coming up, Airmen need to make sure they are fully prepared.

Readiness doesn't stop when the exercises do, and each individual needs to ensure they're taking the time to go over their Airman's Manual and mobility gear, before, during and after exercises.

Mobility equipment is issued upon an Airman's arrival at RAF Lakenheath.

Although most of the equipment that Airmen receive does not need any type of up-keep, there are some that need to be properly cared for, such as the M50 gas mask.

According to Master Sergeant Jeremy Marshall, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protection Equipment NCO in charge, issuing out the masks upon arrival allows Airmen to get more familiar with it, how it operates and how to properly wear it.

Compared to the older models of gas masks, the M50 that were first issued in May 2009 at Lakenheath, is a lot lighter and contours better to fit each individual face.

The M50 comes in a mask carrier with operator cards to ensure the individual is using the mask correctly and taking proper care.

"With the operational readiness inspection coming up, everybody needs to make sure they're performing their inspections at the required intervals [for the M50]," said Sergeant Marshall.

The M50 should be inspected every six months during peacetime and every seven days during wartime and exercises.

The inspection should include, but is not limited to, making sure each piece of the mask is serviceable and performing light cleaning using warm, soapy water.

"You can always do pressure checks," said Keisha Faw, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron gas mask fit tester. "That's when you take both your palms and place it on the filters and take a deep breath. If your mask collapses, then you have a proper seal, if it doesn't, the air would seep in through the holes."

With the ORI and the NATO Tactical Evaluation fast approaching, Sergeant Marshal, offered one final piece of advice.

"When you're out there in the exercise, help your wingman out. When you're donning your equipment, use the buddy system to check each other out. Take care of your equipment and take care of each other," he said.