News: ADAL EX forces service members out of their comfort zones
Story by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - While everyone else enjoyed the warmth of their buildings, protected from the harsh gusts of wind and torrential downpour of rain, these sailors held out, armed with minimal tools and a tent.
Though the hours dragged on, they kept their spirits high, thriving on the challenge at hand: to do more with less, and to be as efficient in the field as they are in a building.
Service members with 2nd Dental Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group are conducting a two-week-long Authorized Dental Allowance List exercise, or ADAL EX, here that started Dec. 2 and will end Dec. 13.
“We brought our battalion out to experience the use of field dental equipment,” said Navy Capt. Rodney Gunning, an Elwood, Ind., native and the commanding officer of 2nd Dental Bn. “The overall intent is that our personnel feel comfortable using this equipment in a field environment, because once they’re deployed they have to know how to use this equipment independently and if it goes down they have to know how to fix it.”
The battalion conducts an ADAL EX twice a year to keep its sailors updated on expeditionary equipment and procedures. During the exercises, service members who would normally go to a clinic for their routine checkup and cleaning are sent to a field location to have their oral work done. This forces Navy personnel to get out of their comfort zones of wall-mounted X-ray machines and power-operated exam chairs, and prepares them for what it will be like to examine and treat patients in a field environment.
“When you’re in a clinic you have people who can subspecialize in things, but in an expeditionary setting everyone has to be a jack of all trades,” said Petty Officer Third Class Roberto Fontanez, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native with the battalion. “My favorite part [of the ADAL EX] is learning to do everything and seeing how fast I can get with the skills I have. You can take X-rays really well when you have the time for it, but learning how to do it quickly and good, that’s the challenge.”
Sailors working in the field exam rooms had to hold an X-ray machine up to patients’ jaws instead of having a mechanical arm to hold it there. Patients in the field sat in foldout exam chairs rather than the leather mechanical seats they’ve become so used to.
On Dec. 6, sailors with 2nd Dental Bn. marched approximately three miles to the location where they proceeded to assemble and disassemble a tent, and had the chance to get hands on with expeditionary equipment.
“Marching out together and getting hands on with the equipment was a great opportunity for us because it gives us a chance to get out of our everyday routine and builds camaraderie within the battalion,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond Hardy, a Newport News, Va., native with the battalion.
When the sailors finished training for the day, they threw their flak jackets and packs on and marched three miles back to their starting point.
“My favorite part [of the ADAL EX] is the people - seeing our personnel coming together,” said Gunning. “It’s not something that one person can pull off. Everyone has to operate as a team.”