We are currently wearing standard Army Combat Helmets and Peltor Comtac III headsets while responding to point-of-injury MEDEVAC missions. We have a Stands Pilot who is insisting that we wear the standard foam HGU-56/P helmets at all times. In addition to making wildly ignorant assertions, he is thumping AR 95-1 as his bible.
I'm wondering if there are any folks in the special operations aviation community that have experience with this battle. Are there airworthiness releases for the Peltor headsets and ACH? Have there been any studies on the crash worthiness of the ACH?
This SP gave us until the 15th of April to either find documentation or get the first COL in our chain of command to sign off. Any sort of documentation would help. Common sense doesn't seem to work with this person.
Original Post
My experience comes from experience in the civilian air transport community, not SPECOPS so take it FWIW. The Army has conducted exaustive research into the kinemetics and injury patterns in rotorwing crashes. Considering that data, the HGU-56P (plus designs from other manufacturers)were designed and tested for wear in the rotary wing environment. The MICH was not designed for that purpose. I do not see it as providing the impact protection or noise attenuation that an appropriate rotor wing helmet would provide. As I recall, the Comission on Air Medical Transport Systems has a standard requiring the use of helmets specifically designed for the rotor wing environment by aeromedical crew members. The Army Medevac community requires the wear of the HGU-56P by flight medics. The AF PJs are not considered aircrew members and as such are not required to wear the same protective equipment as aircrews, so they are seen wearing OpsCore helmets with Sordins/Comtacs. A Gentex SPH-5 (predecessor to the HGU-56) can be had for approx $1500 retail, a MICH plus Comtacs will run north of $1000. IMHO you should purchase a tool designed or the task.

"Experience is directly proportional to the amount of equipment broken"

I understand that CAMTS dictates safety requirements in the U.S.. We deal with an additional set of risks to safety here in Afghanistan. We currently have HGU-56/Ps and wear them for routine flights and patient transfers. The reasons behind medics wearing the Kevlar helmets were A) we fly unarmed into places where people shoot at us, then dismount and B) there is a $250,000 bounty for killing a flight medic. It has been common for flight medics in Afghanistan to wear Kevlar helmets to POIs. Anecdotally, we've had medics shot at more times than we've had medics crash. I personally know of at least two people that have taken rounds to the kevlar and survived. I know nobody in the aviation community that has survived a crash because they were wearing a bump helmet.

Having said all that, is there a set precedent for crew members wearing bullet-resistant noggin apparel while performing duties other than crewing in a helicopter? Has anyone determined whether the risk of being shot in the head outweighs the risk of dying in a crash from inadequate head protection?
The short answer is NO. SOF rolls with the approved flight helmet.

If you are flying as a passenger you can wear whatever you can get away with. When performing any crew member duties you must wear the approved helmet IAW AR 95-1. Your SIP is correct. If you roll as a passenger/ dismounted medic ala PJ style then an ACH is fine. If you are sitting in a seat or collecting flight pay you gotta wear the HGU-56P.

The greatest risk in this scenario is the additional weight of the ACH and it has been proven to cause significant injuries in a crash which wouldn't have the same effect with a flight helmet. No one will sign an AWR for the ACH in flight.

Anecdotally I have a buddy who was a medic who took 2 AK rounds to the visor of his HGU-56 and the rounds were stopped. I wouldn't count on that happening again but usually by the time the rounds get to you inside the bird they have traveled through other stuff.

I used to wear my ACH every night after having to walk around with nothing because I couldn't hear with my flight helmet on. Now with hear-thru you don't have that problem. It sucks but that's the rules...
Are you a flight medic/air crew member? Then yes you need to wear a HGU-56P like geronimo mentioned. If you are EQRS/PFDR etc doing CSAR then you are GTG to wear your unit approved equipment. Are you flying for 101st CAB? If you are doing a POI for an Afghan patient you'll be bringing a security element and a terp along for the ride and won't be putting down until security is established.
The 101st CAB, and 10th CAB coming in are all wearing HGU-56Ps not ACHs, the 82nd CAB when we first got here was wearing HGU-56P as well, sounds like RUMINT to me. I'll be happy to walk across the road and confirm with DUSTOFF. The MEDEVAC PL and CDR are telling me there is no longer an APG for air crew men to wear ACHs.
Update-According to RC-E Dustoff was done for a short period at JAF. Flight medics had to take off the HGU-56P and don an ACH when leaving the A/C and put the HGU-56P back on for flight = stupid. Plus since Peltors aren't as clear over the VIC it was deemed to be no beuno.

I understand your concern is over the ballistics of your flight helmet, but thems seems to be the breaks. I wouldn't want to be doing all the fumbling around when I could be providing needed life saving aid.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "It's time to prove to your friends that you're worth a damn, and sometimes that means dying, and sometimes that means killing a whole lot of people." -Clive Owen - Sin City

I don't know about 10th CAB, I have some buddies flying medevac there so I'll ask them. If anyone in 101 CAB was doing it they were on their own. There is no documentation nor command buy off for 101 to roll ACH in flight.

I have no idea what the 82nd CAB was doing but I wouldn't use them as any kind of yardstick for success... Wink
I'll see if I can pull a thread with the CAB, although its not something I would typicaly know about. Wouldn't expect to see it with Dust Off.

This may have to do with "Non-Standard Door Gunners". Basicly someone put in the A/C as a door gunner that doesn't qualify under the regs for Air items from CIF. In other words, "no HGU-56Ps for the cooks working as door gunners."

If you know away around that little issue I'm sure you could make some friends here.
quote:
Originally posted by Desert01:
This may have to do with "Non-Standard Door Gunners". Basicly someone put in the A/C as a door gunner that doesn't qualify under the regs for Air items from CIF. In other words, "no HGU-56Ps for the cooks working as door gunners."


Being assigned as a door gunner isn't MOS specific and the most drastic thing you need to get issued ALSE equipment is a memorandum from a company level aviation commander.

-------- If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It's not tragic to die doing what you love.

quote:
Originally posted by Steve Z:
quote:
Originally posted by Desert01:
This may have to do with "Non-Standard Door Gunners". Basicly someone put in the A/C as a door gunner that doesn't qualify under the regs for Air items from CIF. In other words, "no HGU-56Ps for the cooks working as door gunners."


Being assigned as a door gunner isn't MOS specific and the most drastic thing you need to get issued ALSE equipment is a memorandum from a company level aviation commander.


Yep, had a few 19Ds from my unit get tasked to door gun for the 07-09 deployment and they all drew the ALSE kit from CIF when they got transferred to 3d ACR's Ave squadron.
quote:
Originally posted by Steve

Being assigned as a door gunner isn't MOS specific and the most drastic thing you need to get issued ALSE equipment is a memorandum from a company level aviation commander.


Roger on the MOS, hence why I used Non-Standard Door Gunner, the CABs term. Perhaps our team made it harder than it is, but the CO's memo didn't cut it. Neither did the BDE Commanders letter, maybe they have a work around now.

Edit, I'm referring specificly to air items from CIF, I'm not positive where they get issued the helmets.
Door Gunners at least for 101CAB are now being a put on flight orders (for air crew)and are getting pay and getting ALSE equipment at CIF (the memorandum is from a brigade level aviation commander now - I sent a few over that way that didn't make the forcecap cut)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "It's time to prove to your friends that you're worth a damn, and sometimes that means dying, and sometimes that means killing a whole lot of people." -Clive Owen - Sin City

Door gunners must be on flight status which is what gets them the flight equipment issued.

A helicopter can not have "crew members" who are not drawing flight pay. Door gunners must be progressed as a part of the crew in order to hold the position. This isn't new stuff and there are pretty specific procedures in place. The aviation BN CDR can/ will sign the flight orders.
We didn't have anyone in 101CAB rolling without the HGU. 82nd before us rolled with HGUs too. We had some dudes get pulled into door gunner status and all of 'em got an in-country issue.

"We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful."

quote:
Originally posted by MaxD:
I understand that CAMTS dictates safety requirements in the U.S..


Just a Heads up. What FN told you was sort of
misleading. CAMTS doesn't dictate anything. They recommend a set of best practices, and policies. To seek CAMTS acreditation, you must meet certain standards. But to seek their acreditation is purely voluntary, as is not required by any organization. If a hospital wants it, it is up to them to seek acceptance.

gents,

Anyone have an update to this? some good info dumped but the ground situations have changed and it is my understanding that units are now rolling with ballistic helmets for flight medics?

can anyone verify this? if so, can you dig up the waiver and/or approval that was done to allow this in light of 95-1 requirements?

You're not going to find an AWR authorizing anything but the flight helmet for use. There have been misinformed but well-intentioned people who have tried this many times over the years. The ground situation has not changed, contrary to popular belief. People have been shooting at helicopters and the people carrying them since day one of the current fight. Everyone wants to revisit this topic during their deployment because it's scary when fuckers shoot at them. 

 

The in-flight portion of the fight is by far the most dangerous. Good comms are essential to everyone surviving the flight. The flight helmet accomplishes this.

 

Not to be a dick but, if shit is sketchy when you are on the ground feel free to swap helmets or just hope for the best. The only time I would swap helmets was if I was on the ground for a significant amount of time. (more than 30-45 minutes) Speed is safety and not fiddle-fucking around with things when you should be getting back into the air ASAP will keep you safer. I'm not a medic nor have I done medevac stuff, but I have been around this block. The army SOF aviation guys are wearing flight helmets. People see TV shows with  PJ's and want to emulate but they are just passengers. The Army doesn't condone or allow anything but the flight helmet. 

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