Warfighter Protection Division - Operational Survival and Analysis Branch

The Operational Survival and Analysis Branch (OSAB) grew out of the IBB’s efforts within the framework of the Joint Trauma and Prevention of Injury in Combat Program (JTAPIC).  Over the last year, over $2 million in funds was secured to effectively run an expansion of the ALSERP which analyzes ground vehicle incidents in the same in–depth manner. While the JTAPIC program is administered by MRMC and encompasses multiple organizations, the USAARL contribution will initially focus on data analysis and data synthesis. 

Previously, the U.S. Army has no reliable way to quantify performance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided to our combat Soldiers.  Current U.S. Army military trauma databases, although able to answer myriad questions regarding trauma care, provide virtually no information regarding the circumstances of wounding or the use of protective equipment - lacking even such basic details as whether PPE was even worn.  Gaps include the lack of data describing the operational environment, as well as no comprehensive mechanism for the collection, examination, or cataloging of damaged PPE associated with combat injuries.  As a result, program managers have no way of knowing how well their products are functioning on the battlefield; they are forced to rely on case reports and anecdotes, combined with sterile laboratory evaluations, when deciding whether to invest in product improvements. Frustrated equipment developers (e.g., Army Research Laboratory, Natick Soldier Center) have little information on what improvements to make and where to spend their research funds.  The USAARL JTAPIC framework would allow the reliable estimation of PPE performance in present and future combat operations.

The OSAB personnel have been instrumental in developing several short notice responses to Army and Navy customers involving questions about eye protection, ear and hearing protection as well as helping inform research groups about the distribution and types of wounds seen in the current conflicts. The need for secured data and video conference capability has led to the installation of an additional USAARL-wide communications network that helps us deal with sensitive information and collaborate with intelligence organizations around the world.

  Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE)  

The objective of this section is to collect and analyze all available safety and protective equipment involved in causing or preventing injuries in U.S. Army aviation or other military accidents. These analyses are instrumental in providing, verifying, and advancing military standards and performance requirements for life support and personal protective equipment. Results from this program frequently identify gaps in human tolerance/protection research and are transitioned into the core research program at USAARL and the DOD.

A major recent success is the development and qualification testing of the Personal Helicopter Oxygen Delivery System (PHODS) for aircrew members flying at altitudes above 10,000 feet in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Fielding has commenced within the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) community with fielding for all of Army Aviation scheduled for FY 08. USAARL led the assessment of the Light Utility Helicopter Source Selection for the medical interior and major airframe modifications are in-process due to the input of the USAARL subject matter expert (SME) team. USAARL’s continued position as advocate for fire protective clothing for aircrew has assisted in the needed emphasis for the development of the Fire Resistant Environment Ensemble (FREE) currently in final testing in Korea and targeted for fielding through requests for information (RFI) for FY 08-09.

The ALSE section continued its extremely successful Problem Fit (PROFIT) program for aviators who develop difficulty with their flight helmets. It developed over 50 custom helmet fitting solutions this year, and continues to monitor successful fittings from the past.

  Aviation Life Support Equipment Retrieval Program (ALSERP)  

Mission Statement: To continually improve the protection afforded to military aviators.
To achieve its mission, the ALSERP analyzes aviation life support equipment (ALSE) retrieved from mishaps. The program predominately investigates mishaps involving US Army and National Guard rotary-wing aircraft.  However, since the program’s inception in 1971, ALSERP has assisted in investigations for the US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard, US Air Force, US Department of Interior and the US Department of Agriculture for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft mishaps.

The ALSERP employs the expertise of flight surgeons, engineers, aviation safety officers, pilots, and research technicians.  This diverse team works together to correlate equipment performance to injury patterns through the analysis of equipment, medical data and mishap kinematics.  The ALSERP is a one of a kind program in a unique position that allows expert assessment of equipment that has been fielded to the end user.

Historically, the program has provided data which led to the justification and development of crashworthy fuel systems, fire retardant flight suits and gloves, crashworthy seating and the transition from the SPH-4/B helmet to the currently fielded HGU-56/P.  More recently, survival issues were found with overwater crewmembers due to chin strap release problems in the helmet.  Through a rapid fielding initiative a new quick release chin strap was issued.  Seat component issues have also been identified and addressed through quality deficiency reports in both the OH-58 and UH-60 airframes.  ALSERP personnel participated in an ongoing effort to obtain an airworthiness release for the Personal Helicopter Oxygen Delivery System (PHODS) which provides supplemental oxygen to aircrew operating at 10,000 feet and above.

In addition to a diverse team of experts, the program also has access to an array of testing capabilities which allows for the quantitative assessment of ALSE.  An inertia reel G-tester housed at USAARL is one of only a few in existence.  The G-tester assesses whether or not webbing and housing acceleration criteria are being met on fielded inertia reels.  A thermal imaging camera is a new method being utilized in order to isolate areas of damage on composite helmet shells.  The program also uses climate controlled chambers to recreate environmental conditions experienced at the time of mishaps, a monorail drop tower to measure blunt impact performance of helmets, and a tensile strength tester to assess energy attenuating wires and restraint webbing.

Last Updated 09/06/2013

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