Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Most Common Category of Submarine Injuries Was ...

Long-term space mission planning entails predictions of required medical support for astronauts.

As usual, submariners provide a convenient, data-rich resource for estimating astronaut medical needs. Both space and undersea environments are unusually isolated, confined and potentially deadly.

Rates of accidents and injuries during U.S. Navy submarine deployments had not been evaluated since the WW2 era. Obviously, applicability to space programs was lacking.

Modern Studies:

Updated studies were certainly needed and some were conducted between 1 January 1997 and 30 September 2000. Studies included U.S. Navy officers and enlisted men deployed on up to 240 submarine patrols. A total of 1389 officers and 11,952 enlisted crew members served aboard participating submarines for 215,086 and 1,955,521 person-days at sea, respectively, during the study period. [M.E. was not involved in these studies, many of you probably were.]

Partial Results:

The most common category of injuries was open wounds, followed by sprains and strains, contusions, superficial injuries, burns, and others. Rates of accidents and injuries decreased with increasing age and duration of military service. Among submariners working in supply departments, the rates were more than two times those of crewmembers working in other departments.

Partial Conclusions:

Rates of accidents and injuries were very low; however, focused safety training could reduce rates among younger and less experienced crew members as well as among those working in particular areas of the submarine. - Accidents and injuries among U.S. Navy crewmembers during extended submarine patrols, 1997 to 1999, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA. Mil Med. 2001 Jun;166(6):534-40
Safety experts often state that every accident is preventable. The statement sometimes applies from a wider perspective only (looking downward). Preventative factors apply when hazards can be perceived or expected. There is little chance an individual struck by a meteor fragment in a Walmart parking lot, for instance, could have perceived, expected, or guarded against such a hazard. Yet, from a lookdown toward Earth perspective a warning may have been possible.

Disclosure: M. E. was once a safety professional who attained a high degree of success and personal recognition for continuous safety improvements at an industrial installation with significant chemical, laser, plasma, and radiation hazards in addition to most types of cutting, grinding and allied machinery. The most valuable area of experience toward my success in management of several hundred workers' safety was my service in Navy nuclear submarines. In my safety management capacity, I also provided requested advice to a space related facility located across the continent. Do I miss the work? No, extremely stressful. I do miss the grateful people.



Post a Comment

<< Home