Mixed Gas Hypoxia Training in Low Pressure Chambers
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-139
Topic Title: Mixed Gas Hypoxia Training in Low Pressure Chambers
Proposal No.: N082-139-0272
Firm: Environics Inc.
69 Industrial Park Road East
Tolland, Connecticut 06084
Contact: Thomas Bamford
Phone: (860) 872-1111
Web Site: http://www.environics.com
Abstract: The objective of this proposal is to improve the safety and effectiveness of hypoxia recognition and recovery training for mask-off aircrew using the 9A9 low pressure chamber or other suitable enclosure to provide mixed gas hypoxia training. This proposal demonstrates the feasibility of providing hypoxia recognition and recovery training using normalbaric mixed gases or a combination of mixed gas and pressure altitudes of 8-10,000 ft. for mask-off hypoxia training. This training would be provided using the existing 9A9 hypobaric chambers at the Naval Aviation Survival Training Centers. If only normalbaric mixed gas training was required an alternative enclosure could be utilized.
Benefits: The U.S. Navy currently uses hypobaric chambers to provide hypoxia recognition and recovery training for all initial aircrew and refresher mask-off aircrew. The risk of decompression sickness increases at altitudes above 18,000 ft. All current chamber profiles exceed 18,000 ft. Inside observers (IO) and students are at an increased risk of decompression sickness. The IOs receive hazardous duty incentive pay (HDIP) and a substantial cost to the Aviation Survival Training Program. The U.S. Navy reports an incidence of 0.3-2.9 cases of decompression sickness per 1000 exposures. This translates into an average of 4 cases of DCS annually. Each incident requires medical treatment, most often in a hyperbaric chamber with the associated cost for treatment and transportation. Additionally, there is the risk of long term medical complications for the patient which have the potential to be career ending. Another risk from hypobaric exposure is barotrauma with the possibility of an associated medical down time from flight for the patient. There is a potential risk of oxygen toxicity from breathing 100% oxygen at sea level and at altitude. There is also a discomfort associated with post flight ear block from breathing 100% oxygen.