86th LRS ensures readiness, safety

Airman Austin Smith, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels journeyman, right, and Airman 1st Class Adam Evans III, 86th LRS individual protective equipment journeyman, inventory equipment at the IPE warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. IPE is responsible for maintaining equipment that is used to protect Airmen from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Airman Austin Smith, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels journeyman, right, and Airman 1st Class Adam Evans III, 86th LRS individual protective equipment journeyman, inventory equipment at the IPE warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. IPE is responsible for maintaining equipment that is used to protect Airmen from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Hundreds of bins sit on shelves at the individual protective equipment warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The bins contain thousands of pieces of protective gear issued to Airmen who deploy or attend chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Hundreds of bins sit on shelves at the individual protective equipment warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The bins contain thousands of pieces of protective gear issued to Airmen who deploy or attend chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Stacks of gas masks line shelves at the individual protective equipment warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. IPE supports 10,565 personnel on base and ensures they have the protective gear they need for deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Stacks of gas masks line shelves at the individual protective equipment warehouse on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. IPE supports 10,565 personnel on base and ensures they have the protective gear they need for deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Sky lights beam down on steel shelves stacked as high as the eye can see. Thousands of industrial boxes occupy the shelves, fitting together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle. The faint chatter of workers echo across the vast rows and columns of the warehouse as Airmen inventory thousands of pieces of equipment. One Airman carefully fork lifts one of the boxes down to the warehouse floor, opens it and begins counting its contents.

The 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment flight is responsible for maintaining and providing protective gear to more than 10,000 personnel.

“It’s the gear that protects the individuals when they’re in a deployed location,” said Tech. Sgt. Kari Dyke, 86th LRS IPE NCO in charge.

The gear is designed to protect Airmen from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials.

“We are vital in making sure the safety and security of our personnel is maintained,” said Dyke.

Even when personnel are not deployed, the base must be prepared for a crisis situation.

“If something happened locally, 100 percent of our people will have the gear that they need to support and defend this area,” she added.

Dyke said four days out of their work week are dedicated to putting equipment in the hands of their customers and the remaining day is for warehouse maintenance.

“We are a walk-in basis, so they can come in at any time,” said Dyke. “There are no breaks for lunch and we do not close for training.”

Whether being tasked for a deployment or simply running an exercise, Airmen come through IPE to get the equipment they need.

“As soon as we walk through the door, we are hitting the ground running,” said Staff Sgt. Maurice Jones, 86th LRS mobility armory NCO in charge.

Maintaining thousands of pieces of protective equipment while running customer service operations can be a challenging responsibility since there are only nine Airmen in the shop.

“There’s really never any down time,” said Airman 1st Class Cierra Dominguez, 86th LRS IPE journeyman. “Besides issuing out and returning gear, there is also inventory, receiving gear from different bases and making sure the gear isn’t expired.”

Even though the work load can be stressful at times, Airmen find the job to be rewarding.

“I go home every day knowing that because of the gear that we have issued, we have potentially saved lives,” said Jones. “That, to me, is very fulfilling.”

For Dyke, her Airmen is what drives her work ethic.

“I know that I show up every day no matter how tired I’m feeling because I know that my people are going to come here and work,” she said. “They know that I’m going to work hard for them and they’re going to work hard for me.”