'Ike' Sailor is Navy's Top Radiation Health Tech

Story Number: NNS120426-22Release Date: 4/26/2012 4:13:00 PM
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By Hugh Cox, and Marine Corps Public Health Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- A radiation health technician (RHT) on board the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) was recognized as the Navy's best during an award ceremony held on board "Ike" April 23.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Yesenia E. Harris, a Los Angeles native, is the Navy's 2011 Radiation Health Technician of the Year.

"Petty Officer Harris represents the best-of-the-best in the radiation health technician community and is instrumental in maintaining the extraordinary nuclear safety record of the United States Navy," said Capt. Mike Macinski, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) commanding officer. "I am proud to present this award to HM2 Harris for her outstanding work, and to acknowledge the dedication she has shown to her work and shipmates aboard the USS Eisenhower."

Macinski presented the Navy Radiation Health Technician of the Year Award to Harris. The award recognizes an individual RHT for sustained professional excellence and significant contributions to the Navy Radiation Health Program. NMCPHC has oversight of the Navy Radiation Health Program as part of its public health mission. Radiation health officers and technicians are critical to the radiation safety and health mission Navy-wide.

Candidates for this award are RHTs pay-grades E-6 or below and are nominated by their commander, commanding officer or officer in charge. They should have exceptional contributions in the radiation health and significantly contribute to the improved readiness of the operating forces or shore establishment.

Harris, an 11-year Navy veteran, is responsible for managing much of the day-to-day operations involved in running a radiation health program on board an aircraft carrier. This includes tracking and maintaining over 500 medical records, processing and tracking thermo luminescent dosimeter requests, coordinating radiation health physicals, issuing lithium fluoride dosimeters, completing a wide variety of required reports in support of the radiation health program, and ensuring that all requirements are met prior to the transfer of all monitored personnel.

"I love the fellowship we have on board the ship," said Harris. "Every achievement and award is due to teamwork and the connection we have with one another, especially with the nukes (nuclear-program personnel)."

In addition to performing the normal duties expected of all shipboard medical department staff, radiation health personnel participate in Reactor Department assessments and undergo quarterly audits by the Surface Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team and force radiation health officer.

Capt. John J. Lee, Dwight D. Eisenhower's senior medical officer, said Harris is meticulous, has the understanding and appreciates that radiation health program is a zero-error tolerance program, which is how Operation Reactor Safeguard Examination teams evaluate the ship's program.

"Petty Officer Harris is a corpsman I can trust to do it right the first time and every time," said Lee. "If it was done by her, it will be perfect. She knows all the instructions related to her job. She's the best in the business."

For Harris, it is all about being a shipboard hospital corpsman and interacting with ship's company.

"If I am able to provide help to someone in need, that in itself is enough reward for me," said Harris.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Navy Medicine Support Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.

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