Oxygen is the key to airpower

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

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.”