Demonstration Day Provides Forum for Chem-Bio Collaboration
On May 23, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense hosted a Demonstration Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground Edgewood Area, Maryland.
Demo Day provided an opportunity for visitors to learn about the latest chemical and biological defense developments and technologies designed to support the Nation's Warfighters presented by subject matter experts from U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command subordinate commands the USAMRICD and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, as well as from the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.
In attendance were Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense Dr. D. Christian Hassell and USAMRMC and Fort Detrick Commanding General Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, as well as representatives from other Army commands, civilians and contractors.
In his opening remarks, Hassell noted the importance of existing and new partnerships to work together to meet today's challenges, and maintaining a balance between innovation and readiness.
Holcomb recalled the wax and wane of focus on Chem-Bio in her 31 years in the Army, from the nuclear threat of the Cold War to the concerns through Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"We have to continue to pound the desk to make sure that people understand that it is a threat and we can't wait until a threat hits us in order to make decisions," said Holcomb. "It's an ongoing process."
USAMRICD Commander Col. Margery Hanfelt outlined the purpose of gathering Chem-Bio decision makers to see advancements firsthand.
"I know you will be very disappointed that we aren't going to take up your entire day with PowerPoint presentations," Hanfelt joked. "But our goal is capability demonstration in support of the frontline Warfighter and defense."
After the formal address from leadership, visitors toured USAMRICD facilities, met with researchers and staff, and saw demonstrations of these advancements.
Highlighted demonstrations from the USAMRICD included a point-of-care in-vitro diagnostic assay, a new therapy for mustard gas eye injuries, the Wide Angle Virtual Environment Center and a state-of-the-art simulation training facility that allows students to use a lifelike simulated manikin to ready them to respond to a chemical attack, among others.
The USAMRIID and ECBC also gave presentations of their ongoing projects, accomplishments and future programs, where participants could ask questions of subject matter experts and watch demonstrations focusing on detecting and battling chemical and biological threats, infectious diseases, and managing protection, decontamination and elimination.
Capabilities that were showcased to support the USAMRIID's mission included the PCR assay for Ebola virus, a next generation smallpox vaccine and therapeutic drugs to treat inhalational anthrax and pneumonic plague. Biological warfare and outbreak training is another area of focus. To show the USAMRIID's collaborative training efforts, a representative from the National Ebola Training and Education Center, with the assistance of two fully-suited medical workers, demonstrated the proper way to transport a patient suffering from the Ebola virus.
Demo Day was an event that fostered feedback, cross-training and dialogue that included representatives from every branch of the Armed Services, DOD and several subordinate commands. Most importantly, it gave research teams the opportunity to interact with and answer questions from end users who are the main beneficiaries of their work.