Immersed in the heat and humidity at the Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida, Wayne Baxter, RN, EMT-P, participated in Corvina Loco, a labor-intensive exercise to establish the readiness of mobile facilities for rapid global deployment. The exercise, deemed critical to national security, supported the Emerging Threats Program Team of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Baxter, REAC/TS registered nurse and paramedic, worked in coordination with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex’s Mobile Uranium Facility (MUF) and Savannah River Site’s Mobile Plutonium Facility (MPF). Previously, REAC/TS deployed to Alaska with the Emerging Threats Program Team and the MUF and MPF for a cold-weather exercise.
To support his activity during the full-scale exercise, Baxter brought along 450 pounds of REAC/TS equipment, which is used for the protection of staff and for medical support during a radiological event. “At REAC/TS, we are not medical first responders. Our mission is to provide advice and consultation to health care providers who are caring for people injured or ill from radiation or radioactive materials. Our specialized skill set is the medical management of radiation injuries and illnesses,” Baxter explained.
Baxter learned about the classifying, removal and transportation processes for uranium and plutonium. He gained essential experience in teamwork with multiple Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense assets while practicing procedures and meshing capabilities. These exercises allow for the improvement of processes and equipment so, in the future, key personnel are better prepared to handle rapid deployment internationally to secure and remove uranium, plutonium and other isotopes to safe areas. In recognition for their contribution, Baxter and other members of the MUF/MPF team earned the 2018 Secretary of Energy Honor Award. The award is DOE’s highest form of internal employee recognition for individual or team excellence. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry presented the award to the team at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“This award was a team effort, and while REAC/TS was a small part of the operations, we are honored to be part of a global initiative to ensure that nuclear materials are kept safe and secure,” said Baxter.