I have had the opportunity to treat many veterans during my 20 plus years of practice. I am always amazed by their remarkable stories. As a tribute to those who have served in our military, I am taking this opportunity to share their stories so that more people can understand why they should be honored!
Dr. Tina Alvey
I spent 10 years in the U.S. Navy between 1980-1989 as a hospital Corpsman. During this time I had two major duty stations, the first was in Brunswick, Maine as a aviation Physiology Technician. The second was in Hawaii working with the U.S. Marine Corps.
As a Aviation Physiology Technician I taught water survival to pilots and aircrew. This was simply teaching how to tread water with their gear on, swimming 25 yards, and the dead man float. After spending 5 minutes treading water, they would inflate their life vest to help them float. The dead man float is simply trying to stay afloat with minimal movement. The object is to lay flat on your stomach, usually bending at the waist, and trying to stay afloat. This can be a very useful means of water survival. An escaped prisoner during the Vietnam War stayed in the water for over 36 hours using the dead man float. When found, the individual was asleep.
As a Physiology Technician I taught pilots and aircrew about problems associated with spacial disorientation and visual illusions. There are three semicircular canals in the inner ear that controls balance. When you stimulate the fluid in one canal you feel dizzy. You can do this by spinning around in one spot. After a minute or two you start to feel dizzy and stagger when you start walking. This is the easiest illusion to overcome. If you look at a fixed object, this will clear up in no time. Perhaps the worst illusion is the coriolis illusion, this occurs when you stimulate the fluid in two canals. When this happens, you have the feeling of rolling and tumbling to the left or right, depending on which canals are stimulated. Perhaps one of the greatest visual illusions is the northern lights because these can run perpendicular to the earth and be very distracting. Pilots have a tendency to fly with these lights. These are some reasons why pilots learn to trust their flight instruments as opposed to the visual illusions that are in nature.