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Oxygen is the key to airpower

an airman stands in the hypobaric chamber instructing students on how to react to a rapid decompression

Senior Airman Jason Dudley, 21st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment section lead, instructs his students on how to properly handle a rapid decompression at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 28, 2021. 21st OMRS members at the Peterson Aerospace Physiology Center conduct initial training and refresher courses, and on average push through 480 student a year. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian)

an airman sits in front of the hypobaric chamber talking to students as they experience hypoxia

Airman 1st Class Itzel Ortega-Monroy, 21st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron aerospace physiology technician, talks students through the symptoms of hypoxia, while half the class begins to experience them at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 28, 2021. The hypobaric chamber provides students the ability to experience altitude, pressure, and oxygen changes that they would normally feel during a flight in a safe and controlled environment. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian)

an airman measures another airmans face for an oxygen mask

Senior Airman Jason Dudley, 21 Operational Medical Readiness Squadron aircrew flight equipment section lead measures a student for their oxygen mask at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 28, 2021. The Peterson Aerospace Physiology Center conducts training for military members from all branches, as well as civilian partners. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Even on a U.S. Space Force base, Airmen still strive to help flight missions succeed. The Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, aerospace physiology center trained military members on the dangers of hypoxia and rapid decompression, Sept. 28, 2021.  

This training is used to help teach members how to identify and understand the symptoms of hypoxia and learn how to correct the issue. Aerospace physiology technicians work to help individuals become familiar with their oxygen equipment, including their oxygen mask and regulator, so they can be more comfortable using it once they are operational.

“We have two different types of classes, initials and refreshers,” said Senior Airman Jason Dudley, 21st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Aircraft Flight Equipment section lead. “We teach AFE, cabin pressurization, aircraft egress, unaided night vision. We want to help them be aware of human factors and different things they may run into on the operational side of things. That way we can help keep the number of mishaps down to a minimum.”

After a classroom portion, the students enter a hypobaric chamber where they became more comfortable using the equipment and systems. After the prep work is complete the students remove their masks and begin to experience the effects of having no oxygen entering their system. All of this happens while filling out a form filled with puzzles and math questions to show how much of an effect the lack of oxygen affects them. After experiencing and identifying one to two symptoms they replace their oxygen mask and return to normal.

“Our whole flight [at the Aerospace Physiology Center] is able to teach and instruct. We do about two classes a week and have about 16 students for each class,” said Dudley. “In an average year an Airman might teach 480 students, depending on how much they are in the classroom.”

The chamber is ran by six individuals while there are normally two trainers “flying” in the chamber to assist the students during the simulated flight.

“My favorite thing about this job is the people you meet,” said Dudley. “Obviously I could say the mission, but it has to be the people for me. We are able to interact with so many different people, pilots, air crew, engineers, NASA and other outside operations; It’s something that really sticks with you.”

 

 

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