Medics sign up Innovation Hub

The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) is to build a new multimillion rand facility for the Institute for Aviation Medicine (IAM) at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria.
The SAMHS says the need for a new IAM facility has become more apparent in recent years “as new aircraft technology has advanced to the level where it far exceeds normal human capabilities – special equipment and training is required for optimising survival and tactical effectiveness, which up to now was only available in foreign countries such as Sweden and Germany at great expense.”
Although the current SAMHS IAM has had a human centrifuge since its construction at its present site in Centurion in 1970, the typical design lifespan for a human centrifuge is 30 years.
Planning for a new aeromedical capability was initiated in the late 1990s and is now approaching the implementation phase.
New beginnings
Specialised musterings such as South African Air Force aircrew (fighter pilots, helicopter pilots, transport pilots, cabin crew of various musterings), airborne special forces, divers, and submariners form an indispensable backbone of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) military capability.
These specialists operate in extreme (physiologically hostile) environments, and utilise sophisticated equipment where the limiting factor is no longer the machine, but the human operator. In order not only to optimise survivability, but also to achieve the highest tactical effectiveness of the man/machine interface, physiological training is essential.
Additionally, specialised aeromedical and psychological testing of applicants is an extremely important aspect of selecting the best of the best candidates for training in specialised musterings.
To cater for these requirements the South African Aeromedical and Specialist Training Facility (SA-ASTF) is being established that will include:
Ø       A human centrifuge
Ø       Hypobaric chambers
Ø       Hyperbaric chamber
Ø       Disorientation demonstrator with night vision integration
Ø       Helicopter disorientation trainer with G-capabilities and night vision integration
Ø       Anti G-Straining Manoeuvre trainer
Ø       Ejection trainer
Ø       Underwater Escape Training System
Ø       Gym equipment specifically designed for aeromedical physiological training.
Although these capabilities are available at various facilities throughout the world, this will be the first facility in the world where all these capabilities will be available in one location.
The SAMHS says the facility will not only benefit the SA military by providing better selected and trained personnel to carry out military and peacekeeping missions, but will also provide the following benefits to the country and region in that the facility will be available to other governments and government departments, notably the SA Civil Aviation Authority and the South African Airways.
Local industry will also benefit due to national industrial participation and defence industrial participation programmes. This includes the contractor engaging local industry for support, the contractor utilising local industry in manufacturing and the contractor sharing technology with local industry.
It is planned to have the SA-ASTF fully operational within four years although certain of the capabilities, like the hyperbaric chamber, will be available sooner.