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Emergency medical servicesWhen NASA was established in 1958, it was known that space flight would require efforts beyond those of NASA to ensure the health and safety of our astronauts. On 10 Aug. 1958, a Secretary of Defense memorandum was signed that assigned the first Department of Defense (DOD) Manager to provide support to NASA for Project Mercury. This established a chain of command through the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. The current charter is dated 19 Mar. 1986 and assigns the DOD Manager responsibilities to the Commander and Chief, US Space Command. The DOD Managers charter has many support areas and among them are recovery of astronauts and medical support. Today these efforts support the Space Shuttle and Space Station Programs. Briefly, the program works with each organization tasking the other through a requirements document. Level of care, communications, and recovery requirements are established; NASA and the DOD provide the capability to meet them. NASA is also responsible for the specialized training and equipment needed to meet these requirements. A Shuttle launch a KSC requires an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator on console to facilitate communications, ensure proper coverage, and coordinate with area hospitals. A contingent of NASA medical personnel are assembled to provide triage and medical support capabilities. The DOD provides medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters with surgeons and pararescue specialists (PJ's) or emergency medical technicians (EMT's). Each helicopter is equipped with at least one doctor and one PJ/EMT per astronaut crew member. Transoceanic abort landing (TAL) sites and end of mission (EOM) sites have similar structures, with TAL sites utilizing fixed wingg aircraft for MEDEVAC. The DOD also supports contingency planning for the support and return of crew members from the Space Station Freedom. Much of this support has been directed at the recovery of crew members following the landing of an Assured Crew Return Vehicle.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Billica, Roger
(NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Chandler, Michael
(NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Seventh Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1993), Volume 2
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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