103rd RQS and Hospital for Special surgery are taking fitness to another level

  • Published
  • By Master Sergeant Cheran Cambridge
  • 106th Rescue Wing
On April 22nd 2014, the 103rd Rescue squadron and the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) teamed up for their human performance optimization program (HPO) training In this program, the HSS team educates and assists with the fitness and nutritional knowledge of the human based Pararescue/Guardian Angel Weapon system. Today was their six month training reassessment.

Kara Federowicz, HSS employee and Certified Athletic Trainer, describes this dynamic program to us. "Today we are doing the six month reevaluation. We are taking all of the data that we collected on the initial assessment and compare it to what we are doing today. We look at how far the guys have come, if they have made any progress, if they have regressed at all and how we can build their programs for the next six months."

It is also very important to the HSS HPO program that the 103rd gets the underlying fitness education the goes along with the execution. When the HPO team trainers come in, they start off with class work. The lectures differ between nutrition to stretching techniques and then move to warm ups and then to the drills that they will be doing for the day.

Every month the HSS HPO team comes out and trains with the 103rd and every six months the 103rd's progress is re-assessed. The HPO team consists of a register dietitian, an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a Certified Athletic Trainer. Both teams have been working together since October 2013 and this program has already made a big impact on the lives of the operators that are in the program. This type of program, in the near future, will be making even more strides as it becomes engrained across the Guardian Angel career field.

This program is vital to the sustainment of the Pararescue/Guardian Angel career field. "We have a lot of guys who are very knowledgeable and have a lot of experience at that 18 year mark, but they acquire underlying injuries that may prevent them from mentoring and passing on their knowledge to the younger guys." Said Chief Master Sergeant Brian Mosher, a Pararecue Jumper (PJ) with the 103rd.

The HPO program takes a holistic approach towards fitness. It includes proper stretching techniques, eating habits, calisthenics, plyometrics, endurance training, running and jumping drills, resistance and weight training.

This type of training is what is needed to maintain the operators bodies for peak performance "We are the only the human weapon system in the Air Force. Every other weapon system has a Maintenance Group or Squadron that fixes their aircraft. We do not have any maintenance procedures or a plan in place and that's where HPO comes in. It gives guys the education and the tools to maintain their bodies beyond the 18 to 20 year mark" added Mosher.

Major Glyn Weir, a Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) with the 103rd puts the HPO program in perspective by describing its day to day application. " A lot of the military's physical fitness programs that we do entail running straight forward on a flat surface, push up, sit-ups, maybe some pull ups and those are not necessarily the exercises that will prepare us for a mission. For example, you may be good at running straight forward but, not good at running up a hill with 100 pounds of equipment on or caring patients in a combat setting"

"The concept is to build a battlefield airman so that he has the stability in the core to build the strength, speed, stamina and endurance for missions that running straight forward and doing sit-ups may not prepare you for" Weir emphasized "When you have a strong core, you are less likely to injure your lower back, neck or shoulder."

Mosher also spoke about the positive impact that this program will ultimately have in the Air Force. "In the end, the Air force is saving money, it takes around 250,000 dollars just to initially train a PJ and for the follow on training I'm guessing it pushes it into the millions. This program, for a lot less money, gives guys the tools and the knowledge to get their bodies where they should be in order to maintain the rigorous training and the operational deployments we are tasked for. This is our maintenance."

With the HPO team willingness to teach and the 103rdPararescue/Guardian Angel s willingness to learn, the fitness knowledge of the operators will increase and ultimately produce fewer injuries in the future. The 103rd and the HPO team's goals are to create resilient, educated PJs who have the nutritional and physical knowledge to sustain their minds and bodies for years of successful service and they are coming closer to achieving those goals, one month at a time.

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