A look beneath the surface
By Senior Airman David C. Danford, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 13, 2016
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- An aircraft may seem to be in perfect flying condition at first glance, however, it may have underlying issues that require maintenance. Only by rigorous inspection can the Air Force be sure the aircraft is capable of completing its mission safely and successfully. Just like that aircraft, an Airman may appear to be in good health, but appearances can be deceiving.
To ensure the welfare of base personnel and their families, much like inspections ensure the awareness of unseen problems in aircraft, the 374th Surgical Operations Squadron diagnostic imaging flight detects problems in people. In addition to identifying internal injuries with X-rays and ultrasound, the flight also supports obstetrics and gynecology for pregnancies and orthotics.
"Early detection of problems like cancer and fetus abnormalities is critical to saving lives," said Staff Sgt. Manuel Gonzales, 374 SGCS ultrasound technician. "In these situations, early detection is the best detection."
Although they don't perform the surgeries themselves, the technicians are often present in the operating room before or during procedures. The visual data given to the surgeons enables them to make informed decisions and provide the best care possible.
More than 5,200 exams are performed by the radiology staff at Yokota Air Base each year in support of temporary duties, deployments and base health and wellness.
"I really enjoy helping people out," Gonzales said. "Somebody comes in to our office in pain and the doctor can just look at my picture and go 'boom, there's the problem, now we can work on solving it.' It's an amazing feeling being part of that."
Diagnostic imaging technicians receive between seven months to two years of highly focused training, depending on their Air Force Specialty Code. According to Gonzales, the course has a strenuous workload allowing the Airmen to match their counterparts in the private sector in a shorter timeframe.
Just like the maintainers working on the aircraft, the members of the diagnostic imaging flight work behind the scenes to ensure that Yokota's Airmen are 100 percent fit to fight.