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    Naval Flight Surgery Celebrates 100 years of Excellence



    Courtesy Story

    Naval Medical Forces Support Command

    NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. – Naval Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI) personnel commemorated the 100th anniversary of aeromedical officers (AMOs), commonly referred to as “flight surgeons,” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla.

    “This community exemplifies everything about the Navy’s intrepid spirit and culture of excellence, and we are proud to be a key part in their story,” said Capt. Matthew Hebert, commanding officer Navy Medicine Operational Training Command (NMOTC).

    AMOs are Navy Medical Officers (physician or physician assistant) who receive specialized flight-related training to better care for the Navy/Marine flight wings and squadrons around the world. NMOTC and its detachment NAMI train and qualify the AMOs at NAS Pensacola, Fla.

    “NAMI culture revolves around the fact that we exist to serve the Fleet and operational forces”, said Capt. Edwin Y. Park, NAMI staff neurologist.

    In World War I, due to advancing aviation technology and subsequent flight-related medical conditions, aviation-specific medical knowledge became necessary. On April 29, 1922, the first class of five AMOs graduated from the “flight surgeon” course at the Army School of Aviation Medicine, located at Mitchel Field, Long Island, N.Y. They received flight training and were required to become qualified aviators. The insight they provided as medical professionals, along with their first-hand experience as trained aviators, led to the formal education that AMOs receive and bring to today’s fight.

    Current AMOs face just as many challenges as their predecessors with the ever-evolving field of aviation.

    “There was definitely a very steep learning curve. The curriculum for flight school was very intense,” said Lt. Avery Briggs, a recent graduate of the NAMI AMO training program. “It was such an amazing experience though; it really makes you appreciate the aviators and how hard they have to work to get where they are.”

    Though it is no longer a requirement for AMOs to be qualified aviators, the insight into the environmental challenges that aviators face is as relevant today as it was in 1922.

    “Being able to experience flying has allowed me to be a better provider for my aviators and has given me a deeper understanding of their unique needs,” said Briggs.

    Every year, NAMI trains approximately 75 new AMOs. After 1922, AMOs would go on to specialize in the fields of ophthalmology, otology, cardiology, aviation physiology, psychology, neuropsychiatry, and aviation administration. As technology and requirements advanced, so have the number of AMO specialties.

    The community has grown to include aerospace medicine specialists, naval flight surgeons, aerospace physician assistants and aerospace medical examiners. Each specialty comes away armed with unique training and experience that allows these medical officers to go on to serve Naval and Marine aviation wings and squadrons globally.

    “I am so honored to be part of the aviation community and serve my country as a flight surgeon,” said Briggs. “I truly think it is the greatest job, it is so rewarding and such a great community of people to work with and serve.”

    With an ever-advancing field of flight technology and new discoveries in medicine, the sense of fulfilment and pride within the community remains strong. Each milestone in the career field requires members to improvise, adapt and overcome any number of challenges in the fast-paced world of aviation.

    “It's a job that calls on the confluence of my training and experiences as a naval aviator, aerospace medicine specialist, flight surgeon and neurologist, and it's that combination of demands that uniquely suits my background,” said Park.

    In the 100 years since the graduation of the first class of naval flight surgeons, many have carried the program forward and have made incredible innovations and accomplishments that have revolutionized the entire field of aviation. Most notably was the development of anti-gravity (anti-G) garments by Capt. John R. Poppen.

    Best known for his work on the physiologic effects of acceleration, Poppen was a driving force in the research and development of aviation technology. Poppen’s knowledge has allowed aviators to survive extreme forces in earth’s gravity, giving astronauts like Capt. Joseph P. Kerwin, also a naval flight surgeon, the ability to venture into space and return safely to Earth. It is this kind of innovation that allows the United States to maintain its status as the most powerful and capable air power in the world.

    With new opportunities presented every day for board certified and experienced physicians to train and serve as AMOs, the Navy will continue to push boundaries, provide fast and professional care, and advance survival technology for another 100 years.

    Lt. Mathew Marsee, NAMI, contributed to this article.



    Date Taken: 08.05.2022
    Date Posted: 08.05.2022 15:02
    Story ID: 426659
    Location: PENSACOLA, FL, US 

    Web Views: 260
    Downloads: 0