FORT HOOD, Texas – When people think of readiness in the military, their focus is often on training, equipment maintenance and physical fitness. As 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, prepares to send Soldiers overseas in support of U.S. Central Command, having the right procedures in place is crucial.
Dental specialists from the 502nd Dental Company Area Support (DCAS), participated in a validation exercise Aug. 17-20 at the Dental Clinic Simulation Center.
In order to prepare the Soldiers for their upcoming deployment, the exercise helped test their individual skills and the capabilities of the DCSC as they conducted dental exams on approximately 200 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers.
Lt. Col. Demarcio Reed, Chief Dental Officer, 502nd DCAS, will be the forward detachment commander overseas and welcomed the validation.
“This exercise is an opportunity to ensure our forward team can provide the same services we are doing here,” Reed said.
As the validators closely monitored the dental specialists as they conducted dental operations, Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Henry, 502nd DCAS, explained some of the important criteria they were validated on.
“We ensured they were in the proper position while treating the patient,” Henry said. “We also made sure they had on the proper personal protective gear and were explaining the procedure to the patient.”
Since day-to-day operations are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was important the dental team followed the safety measures and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Soldiers entering the DCSC were screened prior to entering the facility and also had their temperatures checked.
While routine dental procedures usually generate aerosols, eliminating the risk of disease transmission was important in order to maintain a healthy environment for the patients and the dental team.
“The goal was to improve III Corps readiness while also generating non-aerosol cleanings under COVID-19 conditions,” Reed said. “The VALEX allowed us to simulate how it will be forward.”
Maj. Jenna Nakanishi, dental corps officer, 502nd DCAS, conducted dental operations in one of the rooms and explained some of the methods they used to keep everyone safe.
“Usually, air and water would be used to help with visibility,” Nakanishi said. “Now, we are using gauze so we aren’t blowing any particles or saliva around.”
After the VALEX, the dental team from the 502nd proved that they were the right team, in the right place and at the right time to support their upcoming crucial support mission.
“The VALEX successfully validated the deploying team for the CENTCOM mission,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Neal, 502nd Dental Company Area Support Commander. “It documented the capability gap with battlefield capture, upload of radiographs and treatment notes in a low or no communication environment.”
The DCSC also proved to be a capable training facility with the limitless potential to set the precedent for the Military Health System’s use of Corporate Dental Systems.