EA-18G Growler Crew Saved By Portland-Based PJs After Canopy Explosion

AWP

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This could have turned out much, much worse. Some good luck after the bad for the aircrew, being on a base with a PJ squadron.

EA-18G Growler Crew Saved By Portland-Based PJs After Canopy Explosion

On Friday a pair of EA-18G Growlers belonging to VAQ-132 “Scorpions” flew down to Portland International Airport on a special mission—to say thank you to two 304th Rescue Squadron airmen for rushing to help their squadron mates right when they needed it most.

The incident occurred as three Growlers were preparing for a mission, when upon startup one of the aircraft began to over-pressurize. The pilot and electronic warfare officer, trapped inside the jet’s clear canopy, were subject to some of the worst conditions a human can survive. The pressure built so quickly and violently that the jet's plexiglass canopy exploded, sending shards flying.

“As soon as I got in the ambulance with John, we knew this was extremely serious… When someone is having pressure in their chest you decompress it by putting a needle through the chest to release air so the lung can re-inflate.” said Staff Sergeant Mellencamp. The men went to work quickly along with other first responders, and once on the helicopter inbound to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center they continued the chestal decompression procedure over and over again, keeping their patient alive, barely. Due to their actions and those of everyone involved that day, the Growler crew lived. One was just released from the hospital while the other will hopefully be released in the coming weeks.

The Scorpions CO handed the two men engraved bottles of scotch as a thank you from his squadron.

I thought the last bit was a pretty classy move.
 

Etype

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I had never though of that as a potential danger, that's crazy!

Another example of US SOF having the best medics in the world.
 

amlove21

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My good friend at Portland and I were talking about this- prior to being a PJ I was a phys tech (it's too nerdy to even describe), but accidents like this are catastrophic. When the pressurization system malfunctions and won't stop giving pressure, it's violent.

The crew members involved were much worse than the aritcle or SSgt Mellenamp described- like, 2 or 3 days in a coma and bad. I don't blow smoke when I don't need to- but I will this was a 100% a "save" by the two very young PJ's that responded. In our career field, that means "if these guys hadn't thrown their A game, one or both of these guys would have died."

GFJ, boys.
 

DA SWO

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My good friend at Portland and I were talking about this- prior to being a PJ I was a phys tech (it's too nerdy to even describe), but accidents like this are catastrophic. When the pressurization system malfunctions and won't stop giving pressure, it's violent.

The crew members involved were much worse than the aritcle or SSgt Mellenamp described- like, 2 or 3 days in a coma and bad. I don't blow smoke when I don't need to- but I will this was a 100% a "save" by the two very young PJ's that responded. In our career field, that means "if these guys hadn't thrown their A game, one or both of these guys would have died."

GFJ, boys.
Is this a very rapid event?
I ask because I wonder why the crew didn't blow the canopy or eject.
 

amlove21

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Is this a very rapid event?
I ask because I wonder why the crew didn't blow the canopy or eject.
So it is rapid, yea, and sometimes it can happen in less than a second. I have no knowledge of the actual event in question, but usually what happens is the valve meant to let pressure out of the contained area (cockpit, fuselage, what have you) malfunctions and sticks. All pressure in and no pressure out equals boom. There's really not an easy way to monitor this either- I guess if you stared at your cockpit altimeter (obv not the outside) and saw it climbing, but I imagine a fighter pilot on the ground doing his spin up for take off is doing other checklists and things.

The size of the cockpit matters a lot as well- in a C-130 the amount of time/pressure to cause this event would be exponentially longer than a cockpit the size of a fighter.

The other follow on issue is the bends. If you're pressurized so much that your plane essentially explodes you're immediately exposed to a "higher" altitude even though you're on the ground. If you get to even half an atmosphere of pressure before the event, it's like screaming to the surface from 18 feet of water in less than a second. I wanna say in some malfunctions you can get to like, 2-3 atmospheres. For all the divers here, you know how crappy that sounds/is.

For all you super geeks, here's a slide show I used to brief aircrew about ground pressure checks gone wrong- in this case it literally blew the tail section off of a KC-135.

 

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Not to be macabre, but when I read of stuff like this, and about every time I go into a chamber, I think of that scene from Total Recall:

 

Devildoc

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With the rapid decompression, along with the drop in oxygen content, the amount of water contained in the air will turn into a dense fog.

It doesn't have to be rapid. In one of our chambers at Duke we treat (mostly) wound care patients, we can treat 8 or so. We come up slowly and even then the temperature drops 5-10 degrees and fog will develop.
 

Devildoc

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Yeah, I think you are referring to hyperbaeric oxygen rides-V-altitude chamber rides.

The hyperbaeric rides with patients, there was no rapid pressure changes in any of the rides that I took part in.

The altitude rides were different. We had chances to experience hypoxia, and see it in others so we were trained in what to look for. The rapid decompression were part of the altitude chamber rides, and not normally done with hyperbaeric training fides.

Yes, correct. Not comparing the two; the point I was trying to make was that even in the controlled HBO chamber, it happens. I imagine much moreso with the rapid shifts in a rapid deco.
 

Johca

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The rapid decompression were part of the altitude chamber rides, and not normally done with hyperbaeric training fides.
For good reason, depth of 33 feet of sea water is 1 atmosphere whereas and altitude of 20,320 feet is about .5 atmosphere. A rapid decompression would have to happen approximately above 50,000 feet to have the pressure change effect of a rapid decompression in a hyperbaric chamber creating a simulated depth of 33 feet below sea level.

Hyperbaric medicine relies on to a certain degree the greater the atmospheric pressure the more oxygen and medicine can be saturated into the blood supply and body tissue. Due to risks of oxygen toxicity and medicine toxicity as atmospheric pressure increases there are limits to how much atmospheric pressure can be increased above 1 atmosphere of pressure. BTW, the risk of medicine toxicity or unexpected drug interactions in the body at altitude is why treatment with drug therapy typically results in a flyer being on Duties Not Including Flight (DNIF) until the drug therapy/treatment is completed.

The issue of rapid pressure change is how much gas saturation is dissolved in blood solution and body tissue that is forced out blood solution and body tissue
 

amlove21

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For good reason, depth of 33 feet of sea water is 1 atmosphere whereas and altitude of 20,320 feet is about .5 atmosphere. A rapid decompression would have to happen approximately above 50,000 feet to have the pressure change effect of a rapid decompression in a hyperbaric chamber creating a simulated depth of 33 feet below sea level.

Hyperbaric medicine relies on to a certain degree the greater the atmospheric pressure the more oxygen and medicine can be saturated into the blood supply and body tissue. Due to risks of oxygen toxicity and medicine toxicity as atmospheric pressure increases there are limits to how much atmospheric pressure can be increased above 1 atmosphere of pressure. BTW, the risk of medicine toxicity or unexpected drug interactions in the body at altitude is why treatment with drug therapy typically results in a flyer being on Duties Not Including Flight (DNIF) until the drug therapy/treatment is completed.

The issue of rapid pressure change is how much gas saturation is dissolved in blood solution and body tissue that is forced out blood solution and body tissue
So, this statement is true.... but I am gonna guess the multi-decade multi-discipline doctor @Red Flag 1 has some experience here.
 
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