A letter to the European Society of Aerospace Medicine – from the President and the President-Elect

ICAM 2020 postponed

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all our countries in many ways. Of course, our thoughts are with those who are affected directly and their loved ones.

The  aviation industry is hit hard as a consequence of COVID-19 and this has led to much uncertainty and distress to pilots and others who are involved in flight operations. Most of you, the Aerospace Medicine professionals who are our members, are thereby affected, either directly or indirectly.
For the leadership of ESAM, the possibility of organising the planned ICAM 2020 conference in September this year has been much discussed, both internally and with our partner organisations SOFRAMAS, AsMA and IAASM. As a result of the effects of the ongoing pandemic, the organising committee of ICAM 2020 in Paris, decided that this is, unfortunately, not a viable undertaking now, but has instead decided to POSTPONE the conference to the same week in 2021, September 23-25.
-but important work lays ahead

Even though the COVID-19 situation is the centre of attention for most of us, we must not forget what lays ahead in European Aerospace Medicine in the years to come. In a changing world, we must also change. And now in particular, we need good colleagues from around Europe to join us in the efforts to develop European Aerospace medicine further. Therefore, it is a time for reminding you of the General Assembly which will take place in the Autumn – more information about this will follow. Think also of the planned elections this year for the Executive Committee,  and of course the circle of Experts where we already have had many experts volunteering for cooperative development of our scientific activities.

 The  President-Elect of ESAM
This year is also the year for a new President of ESAM. Declan Maher, our President-Elect has thoughts about where ESAM needs to be, looking ahead:  

Where ESAM needs to be:

At this time, we face the Tsunami that is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of us as Health care professionals can see the wave and are managing the devastating impact it is having and will have on our health care systems, our economies and, most importantly, on our people.

A bit like the event horizon, we can model what will follow, but most of it is still conjecture.
ESAM can support the AMEs and the aviation community as it faces the wave.
We can help develop contingency, assist pilots, crew and ATCO that need to continue to work for the myriad reasons they face.
We all need to do what we can to assist our people and our communities.

But what of the time when this wave passes? It will pass. Who will assist in the recovery?
That is where ESAM must act. We need to be there to assist our AMEs, our experts and those people whose lives we touch and influence.
So much will be learned from our experiences that will need to be shared.
We will need to address the impact of social isolation, psychologically, sociologically and economically.
We will need to consider the impact of loss of experience and the factors impacting return to duty and the honing of skills.
We need to deal with impact of disease on people, their losses and health issues arising from illness.

Aviation Medicine will need to forge even stronger links between the Regulators, Scientists, Practitioners and the end-users, the aviation community. We need to identify vulnerabilities and stress points so that individuals do not become victims through poor decisions. 

There is a unique moment where ESAM can work with other bodies such as EASA, ICAO, IAASM, AsMA, IAMA[ International Airline Medical Association, formerly known as AMDA], ECA, EAAP and many other excellent bodies to find the best path to recovery.

This is where ESAM needs to be.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Anthony S. Wqgstaff                   Declan Maher

President, ESAM                         President-Elect, ESAM