MIRGOROD AIR BASE, UKRAINE -- Pilots experience intense forces during every flight. It is up to the Life Support team and medical staff assigned to it to ensure that physiological effects don’t negatively affect the mission.
The first part of the two life support team members and four medical staff personnel’s duties is taking care of the unit through preventative health training.
“These Airmen are in a foreign environment, and they need to be aware that there are unique pathogens that their bodies may not be accustomed to,” said Staff Sgt. Briza Guzman, public health technician and member of the California Air National Guard. “We inspect the food and take precautions to ensure everyone is healthy to continue the mission.”
The bio-environmental technicians ensure members don’t suffer from heat exhaustion. In the rare case medical assistance is needed, the unit works with the flight doctor to treat members.
“Heat and the environment provide the greatest opportunity for our members to need medical care,” said Lt. Col. Shahzad Jahromi, a flight surgeon with California Air National Guard. “I work with my team to include Staff Sgt. Glen Marte and Tech. Sgt. Eliza Villa, who ensure our team is healthy and ready to provide great training to the Ukrainian Air Force members.”
Another aspect of flight medicine is to prepare the pilots for flight. The flight doctor runs the pilots through a flight physical to make sure they are prepared to fly. The same is true for the Ukraine pilots who participate in the pilot-exchange program.
“We run the Ukraine pilots through the same physical we use with our pilots,” said Jahromi. “We ensure they can handle the physiological strain, and then we send them over to life support to be sized for their equipment.”
“Once the pilots are cleared to fly, we work with them to make sure all their equipment is fitted specifically for them,” said Tech. Sgt. Kamee Wilson, a life support technician from the Alabama Air National Guard. “The Ukraine pilots wear all of the U.S. gear--from flight suits to gloves to the g-suit and harnesses. We need to ensure they are ready to fly in our jets.”
The life support team has worked with the Ukraine pilots who use similar gear for their pilots, and for the U.S. pilots who fly in their aircraft. “The primary difference in our equipment is the way it is tailored,” Wilson added. “We have a lot a of minor adjustments that need to be made to ensure a perfect fit, the Ukrainian gear seems a little more one-size fits all”.
When the pilot goes up to fly, all the equipment needs to be sized and worn correctly to prevent future visits to flight medicine, all these precautions are necessary to ensure the SAFE SKIES 2011 mission is completed.
SAFE SKIES is a joint U.S., Ukraine and Polish event where American Air National Guard pilots fly engagements with Ukrainian Su-27s, MiG-29s, and Polish F-16s. Its goal is to develop the Ukraine and Polish Air Sovereignty operations in preparation for the EUROCup. This event is predicated on the California National Guard’s strong State Partnership Program with Ukraine. These teams face unique challenges while working with the Ukrainian Air Force, but these experiences provide great learning opportunities.