DVIDS – News – Aerospace Medicine Implements Return to Flight Duty Status Guidelines for Aircrew Affected by COVID-19


As much of the military works to maintain readiness in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Aerospace medicine providers are working to implement a guideline with a set of return to flight duty status protocols. The guideline describes how Service members who are in a ‘down’ flight status may safely return to an ‘up’ flight status after close contact or contracting COVID-19.

These protocols were developed in response to Navy and Marine Corps Aerospace Medicine COVID-19 cases and are promulgated to synchronize the community’s approach to medical evaluation when returning aircrew to flight duty status. The protocols within the guideline are reviewed biweekly to incorporate the most updated national guidelines and current published research.

“The return to flight duty status guideline is critical to maintaining operational readiness amongst our aircrew and return them safely to the cockpit,” said CDR Allen Hoffman, Branch Head of Aerospace Medicine Programs at the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

These protocols provide a basic framework for our squadron flight surgeons who will also use their sound clinical judgement when comprehensively evaluating each patient. The guideline details step by step how aircrew can return to flight duty status if they are determined to have contracted the virus or had close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

“There are important clinical criteria for aerospace providers to follow if aircrew contracts COVID-19. For example, it is imperative that the provider follow-up with the infected individual once they have recovered to determine if they have optimal respiratory function and returned to a the physical fitness level necessary to safely operate in the flight environment,” said CDR Hoffman.

To know whether affected aircrew are able to safely operate an aircraft, they must meet set physical standards during a series of tests, including a physical exercise tolerance test. Some of those tests help determine if there are still any remaining functionally limiting damage caused by COVID-19.

“The medical evaluation and information in the guidance will ensure our aircrew are ready to fly after contracting COVID-19. Their health and safety is our first and foremost mission in supporting the warfighter,” said CDR Hoffman.

The official guidance will be published in the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute’s, Aerospace Reference and Waiver Guide by mid-November.

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.

For more information about Navy Medicine, visit www.med.navy.mil





Date Taken: 10.20.2020
Date Posted: 10.20.2020 15:19
Story ID: 381341
Location: FALLS CHURCH, VA, US 




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