PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit Six (NEPMU-6) conducted classes on environmental health, industrial hygiene and pest management throughout the week of July 21 to hospital corpsman aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
Mercy, with the help of NEPMU-6, is provided these lectures and hands-on training to further the skillsets of Mercy's corpsmen.
"These classes offer a general overview of what we do with respect to preventive medicine," said Lt. Cmdr. Toby Palmer, an entomologist with NEPMU-6. "It will also help them become better corpsmen who will know how to prevent diseases and prevent injuries further down the road."
Many of the corpsmen in the class learned new and relevant information not typically received in a medical work environment.
"The most interesting aspect of the preventive medicine training thus far has been the food handling lesson," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Stephanie Cilo. "It really gave me perspective on the importance of healthy practices within the galley and on the mess decks."
Topics discussed throughout the week ranged from water quality and shipboard sanitation to infections and diseases transferred by insects.
"As a corpsman you are expected to know and do a lot of things," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Dylan Rich, a preventive medicine technician with NEPMU-6. "You never know when you may be called upon to be a preventive medicine authority where you'll have to draw on the information learned here."
With Mercy's missions largely consisting of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Palmer feels this training is of even more importance to those involved.
"In the future they will be the ones going into Pacific Commands area of operation and looking at different disease," said Palmer. "They'll have the ability to recognize some of the signs and symptoms and be able to make determinations on how to control and handle the diseases when they get there."
This year's RIMPAC marks the first time in the exercise's history that hospital ships have participated. Twenty-two nations, 49 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the California coast and Hawaiian Islands.
For more news from USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), visit www.navy.mil/local/tah19/.