MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- A flight surgeon with Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 533 participated in NASA's most recent shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Dec. 4 at 5:45 a. m.
Lieutenant Commander Brian K. Barryman, a Cleveland, Okla. native and osteopathic physician, was chosen to fly with one of the helicopter rescue crews during the launch and recovery mission of the space shuttle Endeavour. The shuttle transported a three-man crew to the International Space Station.
Barryman participated in specialized training that familiarized him with essentials like cutting open an astronaut's flight suit in an emergency and what type of antidotes to administer during a chemical fire or spill.
"We're basically trauma docs that are at the ready in case of a fire on the launch pad, an explosion in the air or any other type of medical emergency," said Barryman. "We are ready and patrolling near the launch and recovery sites in case of any type of mishap."
He rode on a Black Hawk helicopter, a fast aircraft with long-range flight capabilities that is equipped with essential medical equipment, including defibrillators and antidotes for poison.
"When a fire or explosion occurs on a spaceship, there are a number of poisonous chemicals that can affect rescue workers and the space crew," said Barryman.
But he and his crew are trained and equipped with the right tools to prevent and minimize the danger if such hazardous situations should occur.
Along with Barryman and the two pilots on the aircraft was an Air Force para-rescuer, who is trained to retrieve the space crew.
Barryman, as well, is qualified to retrieve the space crew if stranded. Other than his medical background, he has undergone water survival training and it is part of the reason he was selected to aid the rescue crews.
As well as being a valuable asset to the NASA space crew, Barryman's water survival training is a prerequisite for flight surgeons working with Marine aviators.
Working with Marines and being a surgeon is something he has always dreamed of doing as a young man and is something he's enjoyed for more than a decade. But, according to Barryman, his recent chance to work with NASA astronauts tops all.
"I've always wanted to be an astronaut," said Barryman. "I fly in F/A-18 Hornets often, but just getting the chance to participate in this launch was the chance of a lifetime."