What is the Joint Service General Purpose Mask M50/M51? When looking at the description alone, it may be easy to confuse this type of mask with medical protective gear such as the M90 or M95 face mask commonly used by healthcare workers and those trying to prevent the spread of contagious diseases but the JSGPM M50/M51 is a different sort of personal protective equipment altogether.
What Is The JSGPM M50/M51?
These masks are described as “above the neck” personal protective equipment–a mask that fits on the face, but is attached to the whole head thanks to connecting straps that hold the mask assembly in place.
It can be worn as part of a larger protective ensemble sometimes referred to as “MOPP gear” or Mission Oriented Protective Posture” equipment that usually includes a hood to protect the exposed portions of the head that cannot be protected by the mask alone.
The masks are described as “respirators” protecting against a wide range of threats and hazards including:
- Chemical agents
- Biological weapons/biohazards
- Toxic industrial materials
- Radioactive particulate matter
The JSGPM M50/M51 masks are designated depending on what use they will have in the field–there isn’t just a single mask configuration, they are designed to be worn in specific environments. The mask designations are as follows:
- M50 for ground use
- M51 for ground vehicle use
- M53 for Special Forces use
- M53A1 for domestic and military use
The M53A1 in particular has added versatility and may be used in a variety of modes:
- Air-Purifying Respirator
- Powered Air Purifying Respirator
- Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus mode
The M53A1 is said to be the first mask to be approved for both domestic and military purposes.
Benefits Of Use
JSGPM mask design is touted for a series of improvements over past designs used by military and civilian responders. Some of the highlights of this mask include improved “field of view” (roughly 80%) which refers to the wearers ability to see properly while wearing the equipment.
JSGPMs also have better compatibility with current chemical and biological protective ensembles, are lighter, and include “increased drinking capacity.” Wearing protective equipment in the field can result in increased perspiration and an elevated risk of dehydration, so the drinking capacity issue is a critical one in some environments.
There is also an important feature of this mask that makes a huge difference in real-world contaminated environments–the ability to change the breathing filters in the field without having to retreat to a decontamination area first.
These masks provide 24 hours of protection from chemical and biological agents and radioactive particles.
Who Uses The Joint Service General Purpose Mask
The Department of Defense awarded a contract to manufacture the JSGPM to Avon Protection Systems, and it has been delivered to Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army bases for use in military operations including battlefield deployments. This mask replaced older masks fielded by the DoD, and was placed into service in 2009.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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