By Erin Bolling, USAMMDA marketing assistant
Fort Detrick and the City of Frederick partnered July 22 to host the first Fort Detrick Day at Baker Park. This event was planned to provide the community with a chance to interact with and learn about the Commands and organizations on Fort Detrick.
The Army installation has been a part of the Frederick community since it was Detrick Field in 1931. Since then, it has grown into the 1,200 square foot Army post that it is today. According to Frederick County Workforce Services, "with 7,900 employees, including 1,300 active duty military, Fort Detrick is the largest employment campus in Frederick County." However, many members of the community do not know what happens on Fort Detrick. Fort Detrick Day afforded any and all interested people an opportunity to discover exactly what Fort Detrick does.
The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity participated in the event with an informational and interactive display of "bug" related products. USAMMDA provided information on the Arthropod Vector Rapid Detection Devices, Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Device, Leishmania Rapid Diagnostic Device, and other mosquito-related vaccines and treatments being developed for the prevention and treatment of mosquito and sand fly related illnesses and diseases. USAMMDA also showcased posters of the Oxygen Compressor and Carbon Dioxide Generator, with "fun fact" displays and an interactive "balloon race."
"The event had diverse and interesting displays to enhance the public's understanding of who we are and what we do," said Lt. Col. Karen Kopydlowski, deputy commander, USAMMDA. "Certainly, there was a great deal of interest in the booths with hands-on and interactive displays."
The balloon race, explained to participants the difference between oxygen, carbon dioxide, and helium. One balloon was filled with baking soda and placed over a bottle of vinegar; a chemical reaction between the substances filled the balloon with carbon dioxide. Another balloon was filled with oxygen by a participant. The third balloon was filled with helium and tied to a string. Participants then released their balloons in a "race" to the ground and discovered that each time, the balloon filled with carbon dioxide reached the ground first. This activity demonstrated that the weight of carbon dioxide is greater than the weight of oxygen.
Not only did the balloon race teach participants that carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, but also allowed experts the opportunity to explain that carbon dioxide is what we breathe out, and that is what attracts mosquitoes to us. For this reason, the Carbon Dioxide Generator was created, to attract the mosquitoes to the device, (many of which may be carriers of harmful diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, Rift Valley Fever and West Nile), as opposed to Soldiers in the field.
"We conduct surveillance of mosquitoes, using standard insect light traps, to help us assess the potential threats in any given area. If the traps are also baited with carbon dioxide, we can attract many more mosquitoes," said Maureen Milano, deputy director of Medical Support System Project Management Office, USAMMDA. "We are working with two partners to develop a field-deployable carbon dioxide generating device that will work with our standard insect traps. The devices produce carbon dioxide in one of two ways: either by a combustion reaction or by an acid-base reaction."
The Fort Detrick Day event was a great opportunity for Fort Detrick to work with and teach the community. "Fort Detrick is a part of the Frederick Community," said Kopydlowski. "So it's important that we interact with the community through various venues to help them better understand who we are and what we do."