If someone asked you – “what do you want to do when you become an adult?" – what would your response be?
Now, imagine me as a 14-year-old student at an art school, and one day going to a Red Cross course and recognizing that you love the idea of the First Rescue and Emergency services. My first answer was always – Astronaut! But… what should I do now? Astronaut or Doctor ...?
Solution? Helicopter flight physician!
But how can I do this thing…is it possible? Yes, it is!
I first studied medicine and became an anesthetist and intensivist. And so it was… once I graduated and then specialized in anesthesia, I began to frequent the world of Helicopter Rescue. A fantastic job that combines flight, wonderful landscapes (the Dolomites ...) and the human factor. A lot of different situations every day and in different places. The helicopter flight physician is responsible for providing casualties with emergency medical assistance at the accident site, as well as attending to patients during primary and secondary missions. The scope of activities also involves recovering patients from topographically difficult terrain by means of a rescue hoist. This applies exactly from the time the patient is put into your care until you hand them over to the medical staff responsible at the destination hospital.
I remember one early afternoon in September 2013, the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Dispatching Centre of Treviso, Italy received a call from a person who told the operator that her cousin, a 53-year-old man with a previous history of inferior myocardial infarction, had suddenly fallen down while walking at home. While dispatching the nearest ambulance, the dispatcher provided CPR pre-arrival instructions to the caller, according to standard protocols. An EMS helicopter, staffed by an emergency physician (namely, me!) and a nurse, was dispatched to the scene. The first emergency unit, staffed by a nurse and an emergency technician, reached the patient within 10 minutes of the call and found the woman performing chest compressions as instructed by the dispatching center operator. My team in the helicopter reached the patient 10 minutes after the first unit started ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). The cardiac rhythm was a persistent ventricular fibrillation and the decision was made to apply a LUCAS-3 chest compressions device to the patient, who was then transported directly to the hospital and catheterization laboratory. Selective percutaneous coronary angiography was performed with ongoing continuous mechanical chest compressions. Coronary angioplasty was performed on two coronary arteries. Five days after resuscitation, the patient was extubated and was alert and oriented. After 16 days he was discharged from the Intensive Care Unit and transferred to a post-intensive care unit. The patient survived without any neurological damage despite prolonged resuscitation and a call-to-ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation) interval of nearly 2 hours. The immediate beginning of chest compressions by the caller and uninterrupted CPR by medical teams preserved the brain from ischemic damage.
The mechanical chest compression device permitted safe and effective CPR during helicopter transportation directly to the catheterization laboratory, which permitted the removal of the coronary artery occlusions, which were preventing the ROSC.
This is why I think this is an amazing job…
A little about the author: Alessandro Forti
As well as being a certified specialist in Cardiac-Anaesthetics, Intensive Care Medicine and Aerospace Medicine, currently working as an intensivist, cardiac-anesthesiologist and HEMS doctor in northern Italy, Alessandro has a passion for space clinical medicine, which began in 2012 following a post-graduate course in Space Medicine at the San Donato Milanese University.
He has been involved in space medical research as a COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) collaborator and acted as a reviewer of many scientific articles for the journal Advances in Space Research (Elsevier). He was also Coordinator of the HEMS base in Pieve di Cadore-Italy from 2018-2020.
Alessandro is Principal Investigator for the research Mechanical Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Simulated Microgravity and Hypergravity Conditions: a manikin study, which took place during the 4th. parabolic flight campaign in Dübendorf (CH) in June 2020, in collaboration with the SkyLab Foundation, CNES and DLR.
His main areas of interest are space clinical medicine, CPR in different environments (mountain, avalanche victims, hypothermia, hyper and microgravity), ongoing CPR with ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) neuroprotection and neuromonitoring during DHCA (Deep Hypothermia Cardiac Arrest) in Cardiac Surgery.
Director of Space Training Operations, Blue Abyss; European Space Agency (Retd); Chinese Academy of Sciences (Retd); InnovaSpace Advisory Board Member
Congratulations to Editor Vladimir Pletser and all the authors who contributed to this interesting open-access book entitled Preparations of Space Experiments, which was published this week. Spend a few minutes watching Vladimir as he summarises the contents of each chapter, written by world-leading researchers who have designed and prepared science experiments on microgravity platforms, including aircraft parabolic flights, in preparation for subsequent spaceflight.
InnovaSpace Co-Founder & Admin Director
Author: Thaynara Vicente B Kurrle
Successful International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate; Ketedralskolan, Linköping, Sweden & now studying medicine
For as long as I can remember, I have always been flying around. My mother was a flight attendant, my father was an Air Force mechanic and we spent most of our lives living in an Air Force base. To board, deplane and wake up with the noise of helicopters and jets was part of the routine, which did not make it less special to me.
When I was 17 years-old, my family was transferred to Sweden and I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I was only sure about 2 things: I wanted to help and serve people, and I loved airplanes and the life in the air. How was I supposed to combine these two? I had no idea. Most people did not see a link between these two points, but I knew that I had to find a way, otherwise, I would never feel complete. If I would imagine myself permanently away from jets and airports or not in direct contact with people in need, a huge void would open in my chest; it just was not right, “either, or” was not an option to me.
In a Spring afternoon of 2018, I overheard some fighter pilots telling stories about accidents they had witnessed: a smashed jaw during the ejection after a period of temporal distortion, tunnelled vision, and a total blackout during the centrifuge training. Then, it hit me, those people were the link, they were the ones who connected those amazing machines to the human factor, they were the ones I wanted to help.
I started to research, and I still remember the first words that caught my eyes: “flight-surgeon”, “AsMA”, “Aerospace Medicine”. Upon reading the last mentioned, my heart dropped. I had found it. I had found an entire field and community of people as curious as me and that shared the same passions. And at the end of that year I was given the chance to get in touch with it more directly.
To graduate the International Baccalaureate (a different kind of high school), every student must carry out an independent research about a topic they would be interested in studying in university, our first research paper. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I wanted to understand the symptoms and episodes I had heard about countless times, I wanted to understand what that so feared G. was. I read all the books about aerospace medicine fundamentals and flight physiology I could find, I started to talk to every single crew member and engineer I could reach, but the understanding of the symptoms through medical lenses was still missing. Another important thing that was missing was a supervisor, who would be willing to help me to start the research. Basically, the Science Department of my school did not understand what I was going for, how I was going to do it and no teacher was exactly thrilled with the idea of supervising a student they had no idea of how to help. It was even hard to decide whether to classify it as a Biology or Physics project!
It was in the spring of 2019 that Maria, who was not even my teacher, heard about the project and was willing to supervise me, but I would have to find help from doctors outside; as she put it “You have chosen a very, very specific topic, so you need a very specific knowledge because I can’t tell you how to start”. And here we go again on another quest for a supervisor. And this quest is what made me fall completely in love with the scientific community.
Doctors who had never met me sent me PDFs and articles and two of them (thank you so much, Dr Suto and Dr Lia) sent me the contact of Dr Thais Russomano, who was the fairy godmother of my Extended Essay. She taught me how to structure and organise a research based on the study of the literature, how to select it, how to understand the state of the art of that field. It was more challenging than I was expecting but it made all the difference. Thanks to all her feedbacks and articles I was finally able to understand where I was and how far I would be able to go (unfortunately not as far as I wanted due to school limitations). But now I knew what I was doing. I wanted to understand the effects of the G-acceleration on the human cardiac system and how the Anti-G Straining Manoeuvre diminished its effects. All I needed for the school to approve it was: at least 7 volunteer pilots with enough availability to measure their blood pressure while doing loops 2 or 3 times for a random girl’s school project, piece of cake right?
To my heart-stopping surprise I got all of them, and they were all mostly glad to help me and to send me papers, videos, and pictures from their own centrifuge trainings (thank you so much Major Forneas and Colonel Leite). Nevertheless, to my despair the data collected contradicted my primary hypothesis! Great!
That is when my dear friend Jonas comes into scene. He worked at SAAB, the company which was developing the new Brazilian Grippen, state-of-the-art fighter jet, and offered to arrange me an interview with a test-pilot. It was by far, one of the greatest days of my life!
While we were waiting for Andreas to finish his debriefing, Jonas took me on a tour around the Flight Test Centre. I had always wanted to see the Grippen; only one was ready so far, it had flown only once and only authorised personal could see or get close to it, or at least I had been told. Jonas opened the hangar’s door and there it was! The mysterious Grippen and I was one of the few civils, who had nothing to do with the project whatsoever, who had been able not only to see it but to climb up to its cockpit! Right there, I knew I had made the right choice.
Andreas, the test-pilot, still wearing his anti-G suit, spent a long time answering my endless questions, and by the time I finished the interview I understood where I had gone wrong and the kind of data that I needed to prove my new hypothesis right! And again, I was mesmerised by how the scientific community mobilised itself to help an enthusiast like me, who was still not even part of it.
Hi, my name is Edgard, I'm 12 years old and at the age of 9 years I participated for the first time in the InnovaSpace project "Kids2Mars", asking the question 'why is Mars red?'. I'm Brazilian, but I have lived in Germany since 2009 in the city of Göttingen. I'm now finishing sixth grade, and my 3 favourite subjects are Mathematics, Experiment Workshops, and Natural Sciences - oh and in fourth place comes English!
Since September 2019, I have been participating in the Flugmodellbau Project (model airplane construction) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) School Lab, building model airplanes - Macht Spaß! (it's fun!) Too bad it ended just before Christmas. But my history with DLR began much earlier, when we came from Brazil in 2009, as my father started his PhD at the DLR. As the months went by, our house became full of posters and materials related to spaceships, airplanes, and wind tunnels. There was always a new technology and he promised me that as soon as I was older, after all I was only 4 years old at that time, he would take me to participate in the DLR/School Lab (Photo 1). I never forgot what he said, and it's a good thing my dad didn't either! And so I discovered the DLR.
The years passed by and finally my time to participate came. After a long wait and never forgetting that world my father had introduced me to, I arrived in the sixth grade of school and with it came the offer to participate in after-school activities (every semester my school organises an extra activity, called "Club", involving sports and leisure activities). I have already done climbing, and currently I am doing gardening. In 2019 I signed up for the DLR, which once a year offers the option of building aircraft models. There were only a few vacancies but luckily, and with a little bit of divine help, I managed to enter.
It was great and I started having activities at DLR every week. Some colleagues from my school (2) also participated in the project with me and I made new friends too at DLR, who came from other schools. Altogether there were 16 of us. I like the workshop, it has various tools and lots of things to assemble. Macht spaß! I began by assembling various model airplanes in paper and styrofoam to understand how aerodynamics work and how airplanes fly - a new model every week! I really like going to the DLR. The coordinator, together with the activity monitors (3) are really friendly and know how to teach things about airplanes well.
I think this activity is important because I like airplanes, doing experiments and technology, and the DLR environment is really cool. I have already learnt very important things about physics, stuff that I don't even have at school yet. I've dedicated myself because I think it will help me in my education and it will be good for my life. I don't yet know what I will be when I grow up, for now I'm thinking about being an architect, a designer.
In January this year, 2020, I began the second (advanced) module of the model airplane workshop because I wanted to continue learning. Only myself and 2 other colleagues continued on from the first module, joined by 3 new friends, making 6 of us in total. When I finish this module, I intend continuing on to the next one and, who knows, maybe enter the School Lab for real one day.
I consider myself to be a normal child. I don't always like to go to school, I have hobbies like riding my scooter and playing video games. I like doing sports like badminton, swimming, running and walking. And I dream of winning the Lotto, buying a house and having a very peaceful life.
The InnovaSpace Team
Quando se pensa em viajar de avião, a primeira coisa que vem à cabeça é o serviço de bordo e as opções de alimentação. Brincadeira! É a segurança, claro. Todo mundo quer decolar, viajar e aterrissar em paz. Mas, para que tudo possa acontecer de uma forma tão profissional que você nem perceba, muitas pessoas estão trabalhando nos bastidores.
A tripulação – piloto, copiloto, comissários, técnicos – tem muita responsabilidade. Vivem uma rotina difícil de horas e horas no ar, com alguns intervalos no solo. Por isso, você já imaginou como é a saúde deles? Como fazem para ter corpo e mente saudáveis? E os passageiros? Será que todos estão em condições de voar? Esses questionamentos motivaram horas de estudo dos médicos Thais Russomano e João de Carvalho Castro, os quais dedicaram muito de sua vida acadêmica à medicina aeroespacial.
E você tem a oportunidade de conhecer o trabalho deles em detalhes através do eBook "A Fisiologia Humana no Ambiente Aeroespacial".
Abaixo, um trecho do livro para que você possa se inspirar:
"O sonho de voar sempre esteve presente no imaginário humano desde os tempos mais remotos. Atualmente, cruzar o mundo de um lado para o outro, aproximando pessoas, vencendo barreiras geográficas e integrando culturas, é uma realidade viável e acessível. O ambiente aeroespacial, porém, difere do terrestre e impõe vários riscos à saúde e à segurança de aviadores, da tripulação de bordo e de passageiros durante um voo."
O eBook foi oficialmente lançado em 19 de Fev, na Ordem dos Médicos, Secção Sul, Lisboa, Portugal, com o suporte da Sociedade Médica Científica Aeroespacial - Associação Portuguesa (SMAPor). Os convidados tiveram ainda a oportunidade de assistir a três palestras. Na primeira, Thais Russomano debateu o tema "Fisiologia Humana no Espaço". Após, João Castro explorou aspectos ligados à "Fisiologia Aeroespacial". Por fim, a médica Rosirene Gessinger abordou o tema "Medicina de Aviação".
O evento e o eBook são iniciativas da InnovaSpace, uma empresa britânica do tipo Think Tank, global e inclusiva, de caráter multicultural e multidisciplinar. A InnovaSpace atua nas áreas espacial, aeronáutica e em telessaúde. E tem uma missão educativa muito importante: fazer com que a ciência espacial seja democratizada, tornando-a um assunto comum ao maior número possível de pessoas mundo afora!
O livro pode ser comprado no site Smashwords. Registre-se aqui primeiro, faça uma pesquisa usando nome dos autores ou o título do livro para encontrá-lo. Compre e faça o download, como um arquivo epub ou mobi.
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