Back and neck pain can be a serious side effect of long sorties in a cramped cockpit. In an attempt to fight fatigue before it occurs, 31 Squadron partnered with doctors and physios from the RAF Marham Medical Centre to develop coping mechanisms for aircrew before, during and after flight.
To understand first-hand the rigours of flight, squippers from 31 and 12 Squadron dressed the doctors and physios in flying kit.
After fitting on the equipment the med staff sat in a Tornado to assess range of movement and any resulting pressure points. They also spoke with aircrew about activities they perform during flight.
RAF doctor Sqn Ldr Pollock in full flight kit stated, “This training has been an excellent opportunity for us to learn about the rigours of flight and the use of aircrew flying equipment.” As part of this training the squippers displayed how they accomplish aircrew helmet fit checks.
Adding to this, physio Flt Lt Morrell pictured below said, “This is the first time I have sat in a jet with the equipment on and now I fully realize the constraints aircrew are under.” As part of this exercise the medical staff are developing a pamphlet which contains mechanisms such as stretching and exercise.
Rounding out the day, engineering personnel were available to talk about working on the jet and show common repetitive procedures to generate aircraft sorties. After viewing this ERI McConnell said, “This training was immensely helpful in understanding the conditions so I can better care for our patients.”
Fighting fatigue is not a one-time fix all for ailments, but instead a mindset of understanding limitations and leveraging the team spirit of the RAF to ensure our airmen and ground crews are fit to fight. In closing, the combined efforts of the Med Centre and 31 Squadron are an excellent example of the RAF working together to ensure combat air power for the UK.