UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - Members of the Air Force are constantly
looking for new ways to be more effective through innovative ideas
and processes. But what if the answer to individual effectiveness,
both in our personal and professional lives is as simple as small
changes to our daily routines?
U.S. Air Force Capt. Brett VanderPas, left, 380th Air
Expeditionary Wing chief of flight safety, speaks with U.S. Air
Force Capt. Zach Garrett, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group
aerospace physiologist, in the safety office at an undisclosed
location in Southwest Asia, July 10, 2013. The safety office and the
aerospace physiologist work closely together to monitor trends
preventable by changing human factors. (U.S. Air Force photo by
Senior Airman Jacob Morgan)
According to Capt. Zach Garrett, 380th Expeditionary
Medical Group aerospace physiologist, slightly modifying a
daily routine can significantly improve or worsen a member's
effectiveness during the day.
"Most of us operate
around the low 70 percent to high 80 percent range of
effectiveness throughout the day," said Garrett, who is
deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
"Fatigue is always present in our lives. The extra
stresses on our lives while deployed magnify our problems
and can keep us from being as efficient as we could be at
Garrett, who is only the second aerospace
physiologist ever assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary
Wing, is tasked with continuing to build a new program. It
will consist of three major functions: providing training to
aircrew and commanders on human factors, teaming with the
safety office to watch trends of human factor deficiencies
and working with the host nation to build their own
Aircrew training is mostly for altitude
exposure and human performance threats by virtue of placing
the human element in an aircraft. Commander training
consists of running the numbers on sleep and work schedules
to determine how to maximize effectiveness.
base has its own particular human factors issues," said
Garrett. "Some bases have high g-force aircraft. Some have
long duration aircraft. Some have 24/7 operations on the
flightline while others don't. It all depends on the
environment you're in."
The largest areas of concern
with the 380th AEW are sports injuries and fatigue caused by
heat stress and being away from home.
which is highly dependent on the situation, is to analyze
trends and find problems often triggered by diverse human
factors and the environment. The wing safety office is a
great source of information for an aerospace physiologist.
Garrett can analyze trends showing what may be costing the
Air Force money or endangering people.
Capt. Brett VanderPas, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing chief of
flight safety and a pilot, interacting with the aerospace
physiologist has its benefits on the operational side and in
"From the operational side, we
assess risk in human factors that might affect the mission
such as pilot rest and pilot nutrition. As pilots, we try to
mitigate these before we fly and assess them after we land,"
said VanderPas. "In mishap prevention, the human factors
consultants help us identify not what mistakes the pilot or
crew made, but why they are making them. In the area of
responsibility, we have significant risks due to long
missions, high operations tempo and worse living conditions.
Identifying the problem is only a small portion of mishap
prevention, identifying why it happened is essential."
The 380th AEW has a great safety record, so we are
looking into the smaller things that could affect the
larger, said Garrett. For example, heat stress affects
members here to a manageable degree but coupled with long
work hours, caffeine effects and poor sleep habits members
can be so exhausted that it could cause a mishap.
Garrett's third task during his deployment will be helping
the host nation develop their aerospace physiology program.
"They are trying to determine how to use their
program; it's a niche job that they currently have medical
doctors accomplishing," said Garrett. "We want to show them
the benefits of having a dedicated aerospace physiologist,
develop a deeper understanding for each other. The job is
full of intangible benefits, but we have seen results."
By USAF Senior Airman Jacob Morgan
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