DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. —
While COVID-19 has changed the course for military operations, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, has taken this opportunity to enhance their training ability online.
AFMAO assisted in conducting the Mortuary Technicians and Officers courses in August. The courses are usually held in person at the Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
“Typically, we have our instructors go [to Maxwell] and you have a handful of mortuary officers and technicians who go to learn,” said Capt. Ashelyn Diaz, AFMAO deputy division chief of Mortuary Affairs. “This platform was completely virtual. Wherever they were located worldwide, they tuned in from home.”
With the change from an in-person class to virtual, AFMAO has developed a training plan that brings the building to each student’s home.
“We had to adapt and overcome in light of COVID-19,” said Diaz. “Everyone who attends the trainings for however long we’re 100-percent virtual get to see a part of AFMAO most people don’t ever get to see.”
Besides the benefit of virtually walking through AFMAO, virtual classes have decreased the training gap produced by the increased travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
Classes are held at least four times a year, producing about 90 trained mortuary officers and 65 trained mortuary technicians on average, according to Diaz. Since the in-person classes were canceled in March and June, the Eaker Center adapted to hold the classes virtually as well as offer an additional class throughout the pandemic.
“As long as [an office] can send someone virtually to this class, if someone deploys or PCS’s, that person can help fill in that spot so there’s no training gap or actual real world gap,” said Diaz.
Virtual classes have also given students more access to the content as well as more instructors, leading to a better understanding, Diaz said. The in-person class only allows two instructors to attend, but the virtual version has allowed subject-matter experts from all divisions of AFMAO to provide information and answer questions during a live-stream.
Classes plan to stay virtual for now, which means any students will continue to have the advantages that virtual training has created.
“This wouldn’t be possible without everybody else,” said Diaz. “We have the best morticians and I’m very glad they were able to help out and are willing to do whatever it takes.”