News>Deployed Langley Airman goes above and beyond for man’s best friend
Saman, a military working dog stationed with the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, lies on an operating table, June 16, 2012, at Southwest Asia as medical personnel attempt to remove a tooth, which was forced into his jaw during a training accident. Most medical care the dogs require in a deployed location has to do with scratched paws and insect bites, making this procedure somewhat unique. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)
Service members work to remove a tooth compacted in the jaw of Saman, a military working dog stationed with the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Southwest Asia, June 16, 2012. Saman injured himself by running full-speed into a concrete wall during a training exercise. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)
by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
7/9/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- As Saman lay on an operating table at Southwest Asia, June 16, his eyes darted around the room, concerned by his unfamiliar surroundings and unsure of what would happen next.
It wasn't long ago he had been training with the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron when he collided full-speed with a concrete barrier, breaking one of his front teeth.
While the procedure would normally be handled by the dental clinic, they needed to change locations, and use the emergency room at the immunizations and primary care clinic. That is what brought the patient to Master Sgt. Beverly Lutz, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group primary care clinic element chief. She looked the patient in the eyes, stroked his shoulder and assured him everything would be alright.
Saman, a military working dog deployed from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was the first canine patient Lutz ever worked on during a medical procedure.
"It was amazing," Lutz, who is deployed from Langley Air Force Base, Va., said. "I have been involved in treating human patients for 19 years, but never once had I assisted in treating an animal. I, honestly, was nervous at first."
The procedure lasted longer than Lutz expected, as there was some difficulty extracting the tooth, due to its size and depth within the military working dog's mouth. Several medical units within the 379th EMG came together to help Saman, including the U.S. Army veterinarian, 379th dental clinic and anesthesia.
"I learned a lot about the true meaning of 'team,'" she said. "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in something normally outside my scope and skill set."
While Lutz said her involvement in the actual procedure was minimal, she did stay by Saman's side throughout the operation - keeping him warm and helping to transporting him between the dental clinic and the emergency room. She said her fear was based around not being familiar with the procedure, or the canine anatomy.
"I remember at one point the dog was taken off the ventilator because we had to move him to the dental clinic for the x-ray," Lutz said. "I know that human patients who are intubated aren't taken off ventilation unless they need assistance breathing with a bag-valve mask."
When Lutz voiced her concern to the veterinarian, she was given an explanation on the difference between canine and human breathing. This quickly alleviated her fears. However, Saman was not out of the woods yet. The small tooth still needed to be extracted.
"Removing a tooth can be difficult, but it's normally not life threatening," said U.S. Army Sgt. Darlene Terminal, Ft. Eustis Veterinary Clinic animal care specialist. "However, it can easily become infected if left untreated."
Fortunately, once the procedure was finished, Saman woke up and exhibited no signs of complications. He was released and walked out of the facility on all fours. Lutz was left with a new perspective on a career she was previously unfamiliar with.
"This experience allowed me to learn more about another career field," she said. "I was so affected by this I've asked the working dog section to help me set up a demonstration for the medical group here, so we can see firsthand what the dogs are capable of."