At 9:45 pm, when only the guard keeps watch over the empty lobby and a few therapists tie up loose ends at the end of a long day, they arrive—mostly young, jeans-clad, ready to do the behind-the-scenes, after-hours work that keeps Provision treating cancer patients.
Tonight’s four-man night crew is among 12 total IBA employees responsible for the treatment gantries, cyclotron, and larger proton therapy system—manufactured by Belgium-based IBA—that make proton therapy possible. They work in three shifts, starting at 5:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 10:00 p.m., rotating crews every three weeks. They are little seen behind the closed doors of their control room and in the bowels of the facility’s equipment rooms, but the team is crucial to ensuring patients receive treatment on time and at the correct dose.
Tonight’s night shift is made up of Jake Storey, operator technician; Micah Veilleux, software systems engineer; Jeremy Cheatham, beam physicist; and Troy Brown, systems engineer specializing in robotics.
On this particular evening, Veilleux has preparations for a software system upgrade on his to-do list, while Storey reviews scheduled maintenance tasks such as blowing dust out of the control units, greasing hinges and checking or recalibrating various pieces of equipment.
The big job at hand, though, is dealing with recent challenges presented by IBA’s decision to change out the deflector in the cyclotron. The component, which helps channel protons to the patient target, was acting up at some other IBA sites, so the company chose to upgrade the part in all of its machines. That has resulted in a shutdown and a significant problem to solve in the coming hours.