AOPT equips aircrew with life-saving tools
By Tech. Sgt. JT May III, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 10, 2013
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. -- The aircraft is losing cabin pressure rapidly; the pilot is 30,000 feet in the air, and notices signs of hypoxia.
This situation is one of many simulated scenarios Airmen from the 366th Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace and operational physiology training section prepare aircrew for during Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device training.
Medical Health defines hypoxia as an overall shortage of oxygen in the body' s vital organs, brain and tissues. The reduction of oxygen in the brain causes symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, mental confusion and can cause death.
ROBD training determines students' individual hypoxia symptoms, and ensures aircrew knows the correct course of action during in-flight crises.
"By teaching life-saving steps they get back into a safe situation, recover the jet, maintain air superiority, and deliver weapons on target," said Capt. Margaret Coppini, 366th AMDS, AOPT flight commander.
Safety checks and balances are implemented to handle unforeseen adverse reactions. Coppini and Mathes tests AOPT readiness daily to ensure standards and regulations are met.
"Good communication between Captain Coppini and I are essential while training our aircrew," said Tech. Sgt. Dawn Mathes, 366th AMDS AOPT NCO in charge. "As the technician it's my job to monitor their blood saturation and heart rate to ensure safety,"
Real world issues such as hyperventilating during the training or passing out are ROBD training concerns. Fire egress procedures are incorporated as well, so instructors always remain mission ready.
"Knowing how to safely react is paramount to the war fighter. The last thing we want to do is cause a medical emergency that would impact an aviator's ability to fly real world missions," said Coppini.
Since July 2011, more than 100 students had been trained without incident from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Hill Air Force Base, Klamath Falls, Boise and Portland Air National Guard.
Maj. Matt Dietz, 366th Fighter Wing chief of wings and plans said, "The training allows us to do F-15 specific instruction, so that we are confident in our systems and abilities during emergency or wartime environments."