Skip to main content

Dunker-[betes]

This week I learned and practiced how to egress from a helicopter crash in water. My sinuses were flooded 15+ times and I was completely strapped in on 8 simulated helicopter crashes...underwater, upside down, without an air source for 5 of the runs, in simulated night conditions, and simulated storm conditions (complete with 85 mile an hour winds, rain, and choppy seas). My goal was to stay calm, quickly locate and/or open my exit, use a reference point, unbuckle my straps and, quite frankly, get the hell out.   

I wouldn't exactly describe it as "enjoyable".

The right term would probably be something more along the lines of "effective".

As in, it was the "effectiveness" of the simulator which granted me greater confidence and fortitude - things most of the trainees already possess, but are attitudes I am still working on, still molding.

I learned a lot about myself during the training - what my body does and does not like to do, how long I can hold my breath, why staying calm is so important, how diabetes and adrenaline are not exactly buddies, and how much of a weenie I am at jumping off a 14 foot platform (yes, complete jumping-from-heights-weenie right here).

But, I also thought a lot about why I was there. In the moments leading up to the simulated crashes, I talked myself through the scenario and tried to focus on someone I knew personally engaged overseas as a member of the United States Army. If they have enough confidence to complete all of the requirements to be a soldier and then are brave enough to serve in a hostile environment, then by golly I could muster up the courage to exit the sinking helicopter...run after run.

I realized that this training was for me - to save my life in the event of an emergency. But the testing I am a part of that requires this training can save hundreds of lives when implemented.

So it isn't about me, or the test pilots up front, or the design engineers at all. 

It's about them

It's about believing in your work and doing whatever it takes (helicopter dunker training included) to do your job to the best of your ability.

Confused when I say "helicopter dunker"? The Discovery Channel video below was taken at the same facility where I had my recent dunker training. This video shows just a small part of the two day adventure.

Comments

Post a Comment

Who has two thumbs and loves comments? Nerdy April!!! Type one out and hit publish!

Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution?

On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there is b…

Hot OJT

Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts.

Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz.


The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…

Dolla-betes

Healthcare is such a tricky subject. Ironically, it seems the conversation has shifted away from health CARE in favor of divisive politics with a healthy side of cash. But I'm here to tell you there are real people dealing with real diseases behind all those numbers. And with a laser focus on the rising cost of insulin lately and advocacy groups like #insulin4all making waves, it prompted me to take a look at my own T1D cost breakdown.

**Please keep in mind I have (pretty good!) private insurance through my husband's employer and our income allows us to absorb these costs without pinching too many pennies. We have also been graced with good health (diabetes notwithstanding) and rarely order any prescriptions outside of those for my T1D. But its clear only a slight shift in this delicate equation can make for a dire situation.

Here's what my out-of-pocket looks like to cover type 1 diabetes annually:


The numbers above reflect simply the "baseline operating costs"…
01 09 10