Dentists provide no-cost care while operating in field conditions

By Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis | 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs | July 15, 2019

NORWICH, NY —

Dental personnel from U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units, and U.S. Navy Reserve units are providing no-cost medical care to community members of rural New York during the Greater Chenango Cares Innovative Readiness Training July 11 - July 20, 2019.

Working out of Norwich High School, dental personnel had to establish a location within the school to provide care, set up all their equipment and carry out operations on patients just as they would in a deployed environment. 

“We have joint services working together to set up and run everything needed to maintain a fully operating field dental clinic,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Stanley Michel, the Norwich site officer in charge of dental, assigned to the 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls. 

With a limited amount of dental instruments on hand and over 30 scheduled dental appointments a day there is a full sanitization section within the dental clinic that cleans and sanitizes the instruments after each use.

“In order for this mission to be successful we have to have sterilization,” said U.S. Army Spc. Desiree Sanchez, the NCO in charge of dental sanitization for the Norwich site assigned to the 455th Medical Company Fort Devens, Massachusetts. “The dentists wouldn’t be able to provide the care they are without clean instruments.”

To ensure every dental technician receives the necessary training and understands how the sanitization section operates in a field environment junior enlisted service members have been rotating within dental for refresher training.

“I haven’t done any sterilization since my initial training three years ago,” said U.S. Army Spc. Caige Nichols, a dental technician assigned to the 455th Medical Company, Ft. Devens. “This IRT is really the best situation we could have for learning how to operate in a field environment.”