Emergency Medical Considerations in a Space-Suited Patient

Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016;87(11):958-962. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.4648.2016.


The Stratex Project is a high altitude balloon flight that culminated in a freefall from 41,422 m (135,890 ft), breaking the record for the highest freefall to date. Crew recovery operations required an innovative approach due to the unique nature of the event as well as the equipment involved. The parachutist donned a custom space suit similar to a NASA Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), with life support system mounted to the front and a parachute on the back. This space suit had a metal structure around the torso, which, in conjunction with the parachute and life support assembly, created a significant barrier to extraction from the suit in the event of a medical emergency. For this reason the Medical Support Team coordinated with the pressure suit assembly engineer team for integration, training in suit removal, definition of a priori contingency leadership on site, creation of color-coded extraction scenarios, and extraction drills with a suit mock-up that provided insight into limitations to immediate access. This paper discusses novel extraction processes and contrasts the required medical preparation for this type of equipment with the needs of the prior record-holding jump that used a different space suit with easier immediate access. Garbino A, Nusbaum DM, Buckland DM, Menon AS, Clark JB, Antonsen EL. Emergency medical considerations in a space-suited patient. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(11):958-962.

MeSH terms

  • Aviation
  • Barotrauma
  • Decompression Sickness
  • Embolism, Air
  • Emergencies*
  • Equipment Design*
  • Extravehicular Activity
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Life Support Systems*
  • Space Flight*
  • Space Suits*