• Question: What accidental problems have you faced during training? Have any been life threatening?

    Asked by Daimena to Jon, COLFlight, Anne, Beth, Tom on 7 Oct 2015. This question was also asked by SHS 9C, SpaldingHighSchool9S, U6MUR.
    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 7 Oct 2015:

      Simon: Hi Daimena/SHS 9C: Luckily the training to be a Columbus Flight Director does not have any life threatening aspects to it. We do alot of class-room training, simulations and on the job training.

      However during simulations we do train how to respond to life threatening situations. On-board ISS there are 4 Emergency scenarios that we train for:

      – Fire
      – Loss of Pressure
      – Toxic Spill
      – Ammonia in the cabin

      The astronauts are trained to lead the response (since they are the ones at risk), but we are trained to take care as much as possible of the commanding of the station to safe the crew but also to isolate and identify the source of the Emergency (since we may have a better overview than the astronauts). It can be pretty stressful to train these scenarios but we do it so that if it happens for real we will be prepared.

      In fact training these scenarios is so important that we not only do this with simulators on the ground but we also perform training exercises together with the crew on-board the ISS which makes it even more real for us!

    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 15 Oct 2015:

      Hi Daimena, great question!

      We did lot’s of training before coming here. For example I went on a mountain medicine course in Chamonix with the mountain rescue team. I also had human behavior performance training with the crew at the European Astronaut Center, (which astronauts like Tim also have) and taught us how to live and work effectively together as a crew.

      Since arriving here at Concordia the training hasn’t stopped and we regularly do medical and fire exercises.

      I’m the lead of the medical rescue team and for training we go outside in temperatures as low as -80C to practice retrieving a casualty! With the low oxygen levels this can be quite challenging!!

      We also do fire training and have practiced using extinguishers, a fire hose and even done a full evacuation from the base to our back up camp. Interestingly Concordia is built as 2 towers so if a fire does occur we can cut off the tower with the fire and isolate ourselves to preserve the other tower.

      Fortunately we have only had minor problems this year though! It’s really important that we are well trained in case a problem should occur as it is not possible to evacuate any one during the winter even in case of emergency as the temperatures are too low for planes to fly (typically planes can only fly above -50C).