Aviation Medicine (Aeromedicine)
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Aviation medicine, also called flight medicine or aerospace medicine, is a preventive or occupational medicine in which the patients/subjects are pilots, aircrews, or persons involved in spaceflight. The specialty strives to treat or prevent conditions to which aircrews are particularly susceptible, applies medical knowledge to the human factors in aviation and is thus a critical component of aviation safety. A military practitioner of aviation medicine may be called a flight surgeon and a civilian practitioner is an aviation medical examiner.
Broadly defined, this subdiscipline endeavors to discover and prevent various adverse physiological responses to hostile biologic and physical stresses encountered in the aerospace environment. Problems range from life support measures for astronauts to recognizing an ear block in an infant traveling on an airliner with elevated cabin pressure altitude. Aeromedical certification of pilots, aircrew and patients is also part of Aviation Medicine. A final subdivision is the AeroMedical Transportation Specially. These military and civilian specialists are concerned with protecting aircrew and patients who are transported by AirEvac aircraft (helicopters or fixed-wing airplanes).
Atmospheric physics potentially affect all air travelers regardless of the aircraft. As humans ascend through the first 9100–18,300 m (30,000–40,000 ft), temperature decreases linearly at an average rate of 2°C (3.6°F) per 305 m (1000 ft). If sea-level temperature is 16°C (60°F), the outside air temperature is approximately −57°C (−70°F) at 10,700 m (35,000 ft). Pressure and humidity also decline, and aircrew are exposed to radiation, vibration and acceleration forces (the latter are also known as "g" forces). Aircraft life support systems such as oxygen, heat and pressurization are the first line of defense against most of the hostile aerospace environment. Higher performance aircraft will provide more sophisticated life support equipment such as "G-suits" to help the body resist acceleration, and pressure breathing apparatus or ejection seats or other escape equipment.
Every factor contributing to a safe flight has a failure rate. The crew of an aircraft is no different. Aviation medicine aims to keep this rate in the humans involved equal to or below a specified risk level. This standard of risk is also applied to airframe, avionics and systems associated with flights.
AeroMedical examinations aim at screening for elevation in risk of sudden incapacitation, such as a tendency towards myocardial infarction (heart attacks), epilepsy or the presence of metabolic conditions diabetes, etc. which may lead to hazardous condition at altitude. The goal of the AeroMedical Examination is to protect the life and health of pilots and passengers by making reasonable medical assurance that an individual is fit to fly. Other screened conditions such as colour blindness can prevent a person from flying because of an inability to perform a function that is necessary. In this case to tell green from red. These specialized medical exams consist of physical examinations performed by an Aviation Medical Examiner or a military Flight Surgeon, doctors trained to screen potential aircrew for identifiable medical conditions that could lead to problems while performing airborne duties. In addition, this unique population of aircrews is a high-risk group for several diseases and harmful conditions due to irregular work shifts with irregular sleeping and irregular meals (usually carbonated drinks and high energy snacks) and work-related stress.
Aviation Medicine (MED) Section of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
ICAO sets Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for international civil aviation in accordance with the consensus views of its 191 Contracting States in order to achieve an acceptable level of flight safety. The SARPs concerning medical provisions on medical fitness requirements of licence holders are contained in Annex 1 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Signatory States to the Convention are required to adjust their national rules and regulations to comply with ICAO Standards unless they file a "difference" with ICAO. If a State chooses not to apply ICAO Standards and instead imposes a lower national standard, another State may, if it wishes, prevent an aircraft operating to such reduced requirements from entering its own airspace. A State, however, may set higher (stricter) national standards than those of ICAO without any penalty.
The principal responsibilities of the Aviation Medicine Section are:
• Ensuring the medical provisions in Annex 1 remain up-to-date;
• Providing guidance to medical examiners and medical assessors concerning the interpretation and implementation of medical provisions. Written guidance is available free of charge in the Manual of Civil Aviation Medicine (Doc 8984);
• Editorial responsibility for the Manual on Prevention of Problematic Use of Substances in the Aviation Workplace (Doc 9654) and the Manual on Laser Emitters and Flight Safety (Doc 9815), which are available for purchase from the ICAO Online Store;
• Development of appropriate SARPs and guidance material to facilitate and harmonize preparedness planning for public health events that impact aviation such as serious communicable diseases, radionuclear and chemical accidents.
• Management of the programme “Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of public health events in Civil Aviation” (CAPSCA);
• Provision of guidance to licensing authorities in Contracting States on medical provisions;
• Conducting and participating in regional seminars on aviation medicine and preparedness planning, conducting ICAO educational sessions at international aviation medicine scientific meetings, and presenting papers at such meetings.