Welcome to the
"Prevention is our practice"
USAF Audiology/Public Health/Aerospace Medicine
Capt John Hall, USAF, BSC
About the ARIC
This year a new display was added to the Exhibition Hanger at Air Fete '98. Each year some 300,000 spectators and aircrews from all over the globe descend on the RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall communities nestled amongst the green hedgerows of East Anglia, England. They come to participate in the largest air show hosted by the U.S. military anywhere in the world. Crowds meander through rows of NATO aircraft on display as aerobatics teams perform hair-raising demonstrations overhead. Indoors, the Exhibition Hanger is jam packed with numerous aerospace exhibits representing both military and private aerospace interests. Competition to reserve display space inside the hanger is keen and must be approved by the Air Fete Committee months in advance. And, for the first time ever, a USAF Hearing Conservation display appeared as part of the festival (23-24 May 98).
With USAF medical planners targeting prevention and occupational hearing loss as one of the greatest health threats to military forces, it made sense to demonstrate the critical need for military audiology services to the international aerospace community. Civilians would also benefit as noise-induced hearing loss has reached epidemic proportions in all industrialized nations. A major obstacle, however, was convincing the Air Fete Committee that such a display would fit in their strict guidelines that all displays directly address aviation activities. It was therefore logical to package Hearing Conservation under the broader topic of Aerospace Medicine. Marketed this way, the project was approved.
The second hurdle was easily overcome in terms of gaining financial backing for the project by medical group commanders. Once briefed, commanders instantly understood the advantage of such a displays impact on prevention-based medicine. The project outline was proposed and medical group staffings released necessary funding.
Next, work began to see the project through to completion. Advice from the Wing Historian proved invaluable in selecting audiovisual and graphic materials which result in the most professional display possible, while keeping the project under its approved budget.
After several months of work and coordination the display was completed on schedule. The display highlighted aeromedical topics of interest to the general public. Topics included hypoxia, G-LOC, centrifuge training, spatial disorientation, emergency egress, pressure illness, aeromedical nutrition, cockpit ergonomics, and hearing conservation . Along with examples of hearing protection, over 400 pairs of foam insert hearing protection devices (HPDs), donated by the Medical Group Auxiliary, were dispensed. The Auditory Readiness Information Center (ARIC) was highlighted as an integral part of the display. ARIC is a Power-Point driven information package that outlines the need for hearing protection and the critical role the USAF Hearing Conservation Program plays in maintaining Force Strength and Readiness.
The display was well-received. The media (BBC) stated the display was one of the most interesting in the entire exhibition. Crowds accumulated to view static items as well as taped footage of a centrifuge ride at Brooks AFB! Many questions were raised about noise and hearing loss. Low level flybys by air show demonstration jets were perfect to prompt such questioning and arouse interest in hearing conservation.
The Aerospace Medicine squadron at RAF Lakenheath is enthusiastic about the effectiveness of the display, and folks are already talking about even bigger plans for next years Air Fete.
For more information contact:
JOHN HALL, Capt, USAF, BSC