Enroute Care & Airworthiness Division

The Enroute Care and Airworthiness Division (ECAD) provides knowledge and expertise to plan and conduct studies to improve patient outcomes by addressing patient movement equipment and patient care capability gaps related to ground or rotary-wing transport. The studies include research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) to (1) support the selection of medical devices used on air and ground ambulances, and (2) improve knowledge and treatment of injury and disease under the unique physical, mechanical, and physiological stresses of the patient movement environment.

Medical devices (off-the-shelf and developmental) are evaluated for compatibility with the combat aviation environment.  In addition, the ECAD team provides expertise on airworthiness design and testing criteria to support the design, research, and development of medical devices, as well as to support the investigation of medical adverse events associated with the use of medical systems on aircraft. ECAD supports research teams via testing and evaluating the airworthiness of medical research devices for use on the research aircraft, and coordination with airworthiness engineers at the U.S. Army Aviation Engineering Directorate, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. 

Evaluations of medical technology performance will guide the prevention of in-transit injury or compromise and/or the treatment of injured or ill patients during evacuation. The outcomes will provide (1) evidence-based medical practice guidelines and knowledge, and (2) operational recommendations or standards to mitigate environmental and physical space challenges during pre-hospital and inter-hospital transport.

RDT&E Areas:

  • Executing studies to understand and relate the impact of transport environmental factors (e.g., jolt, vibration, noise, thermal burden, hypoxia, hypobaria) on patient physiology; quantifying environmental stress dose in relationship to patient responses and deriving medical standards
  • Investigating ways to prevent or mitigate transport-related pathology through improved pre-transport protocols and procedures
  • Testing and evaluating patient immobilization systems during transport with a focus on mitigating vehicle jolt and vibration, and patient motion
  • Studying and evaluating patient monitoring and treatment technologies in the medical evacuation environment (e.g., non-invasive strategies, telemedicine, noise-immune stethoscope)
  • Developing medical equipment test standards for use in acquisition programs
  • Providing recommendations for improving rotary-wing and ground ambulance medical interior design to accommodate varying skill sets of ground and rotary-wing patient care providers to optimize clinical outcomes
  • Developing clinical practice guidelines and standards (national and international) with emphasis on ground and rotary-wing transport
  • Designing, conducting and overseeing studies to evaluate the impact of medical devices used in the air ambulance on the device, patient, aircrew and the aircraft
  • Studying medical technologies under vibration, jolt, electromagnetic compatibility and interference, and environmental conditions (temperature, altitude, etc.) testing, as well human factors assessments through the use of specialized equipment and facilities (e.g., environmental chambers)
  • Applying appropriate U.S. and international standards and guidelines for evaluating medical devices and aviation system interference
  • Providing subject matter expertise by serving as members of IPTs and supporting the product development and decision gate process
  • Creating knowledge and information products based on the airworthiness testing of medical and research devices (e.g., risk assessments, aeromedical certification memorandum, and technical reports)

Environmental and airworthiness testing is conducted in accordance with the Joint Enroute Care Equipment Test Standard (JECETS) and other military standards (MIL-STD-461, MIL-STD-810, etc.) 

Capabilities:

  • Vibration laboratory
  • Electrical safety analysis equipment
  • Acceleration (Crash load) testing equipment
  • Reach-in altitude chamber
  • Reach-in climatic chambers (high and low temperatures humidity)
  • Walk-in climatic chamber (high and low temperatures, humidity)
  • Blowing sand and dust chamber
  • Blowing rain chamber
  • Electromagnetic interference equipment and chamber
  • Transit drop apparatus.

Testing capabilities include:

  • Battery life testing
  • Settling dust testing
  • Rapid decompression testing
  • Salt fog testing
  • Explosive atmosphere testing
  • Man-rated altitude chamber
  • Night vision device laboratory and field testing
  • Flight testing (H-60 series, UH-72, CH-47 aircraft)

 
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