When patients walk into a dental clinic, their senses are immediately overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. Bright lights. Sanitizing chemicals. Whirring machines. What patients typically do not take into consideration is the maintenance required to run the clinic. After all, the clinic — with all its high-tech equipment — cannot run without the equipment being fully functional.
For the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation Tri-State Innovative Readiness Training 2019 Sikeston site, one of the key Airmen behind that maintenance is U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Geoffrey Elungata, a native of Kenya and biomedical equipment technician assigned to the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard.
For Elungata, who works as an emergency medical technician in the civilian world, the work of a biomedical equipment technician goes beyond machinery.
“It’s all about patient care,” said Elungata. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a medical technician or biomedical equipment technician. When you get that patient interaction, it doesn’t feel like you’re working.”
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Geoffrey Elungata, a biomedical equipment technician assigned to the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, repairs a malfunctioning autorefractor keratometer at a temporary clinic at the Miner Baptist Church in Sikeston, Mo., June 22, 2019. U.S. service members deployed to Sikeston in support of Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation Tri-State Innovative Readiness Training 2019, a joint service exercise that provides training to service members and no-cost medical, dental and vision services to the local community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jonathan W. Padish)
In the Air Force, biomedical equipment technicians are more than just engineers. They undergo medical education and training and integrate themselves into their medical environments. The reasoning is simple: in medicine, people’s lives are at stake.
“If you bring someone who isn’t medical into the scene, they won’t have the proper training,” said Elungata. “For example, we studied anatomy and physiology in tech school. I have CPR training. I know if a patient goes down, I can jump into that role. You need to have the right medical training.”
More importantly, that emphasis on medicine helps facilitate Elungata’s ability to perform his duties.
“When I walk in, the doctor is comfortable with me because they know I’m familiar with patient care,” said Elungata.
At the DAEOC Tri-State IRT 2019 Sikeston site, the service members staffing the clinics have come to rely on Elungata.
“Elungata and the rest of BMET is critical to dental mission success and readiness,” said U.S. Navy Reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Johnson, the DAEOC Tri-State IRT 2019 Sikeston site dental noncommissioned officer in charge and a hospital corpsman assigned to Detachment L, Navy Operational Support Center Chicago, Expeditionary Medical Facility Great Lakes. “If we had an issue he was already here. He would also visit periodically throughout the duty day to see if everything is OK.”
Indeed, DAEOC Tri-State IRT 2019 Sikeston site leadership noticed Elungata’s high energy.
“He is non-stop,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Steven Martin, the officer in charge of the DAEOC Tri-State IRT 2019 Sikeston site and a physician assistant for the 181st Intelligence Wing, Indiana Air National Guard. “Every time I see the guy, he’s doing something. He is dependable and has a great attitude, which makes him a go-to guy.”
Despite the hard work and accolades, Elungata remains humble about his role in the military’s medical mission.
“We’re not heroes,” said Elungata. “We just know about the blocks of care.”
DAEOC Tri-State IRT 2019 is a joint service medical exercise that provides real-world training to service members and dental, medical and optometry services to members of the local community.
© 2018, TechNation Magazine. Site designed by MD Publishing, Inc.