Teaching Aviation Medicine during a pandemic
“The mission isn’t stopping, so the training isn’t stopping.” The message, relayed by the School of Army Aviation Medicine (SAAM) 1SG, is one of perseverance and resolve. The Fort Rucker based school will continue training despite the challenges brought by the ongoing pandemic threat. COVID 19 has affected the nation, albeit the world, but SAAM took precautions and put measures in place to ensure the continued success of our military’s aeromedical assets. Following higher headquarters guidance and in cooperation with the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE), SAAM developed methods to present portions of their current programs of instruction (POI) virtually.
The transition to virtual learning is an arduous process. However, SAAM cadre were up to the challenge. Through combined efforts, the cadre learned new computer and presentation skills needed to navigate the digital environment. They developed and deployed both synchronous and asynchronous products designed to engage students similarly to that of a traditional classroom. Furthermore, recognizing not all training can nor should be presented in a distance learning format, SAAM developed hybrid lessons to ensure training value was not lost. Subsequently, some SAAM courses still have a local attendance requirement. SAAM has not identified any significant degradation of training outcomes since transitioning to the new hybrid model.
Prospective SAAM students should expect to receive some portion of their training in both digital and face to face environments for the foreseeable future. Despite the mode of training delivery, SAAM personnel ensure all current social distancing polices are upheld at all times. From student report date through departure, both students and SAAM Cadre are monitored for changes to health status. SAAM’s commitment to safety allows them to continue producing intelligent, agile, and adaptive aeromedical professionals. The SAAM team is prepared to adapt to any changes brought on during these difficult times. They have vowed to find a way to train. In keeping with the immortalized Charles Kelly, “when I have your wounded.”