Athens ECAM

In a lull before the Christmas celebrations get into full swing, it is time to reflect on the second European Congress of Aerospace Medicine, held in Athens in November. The 20 degree rise in day time temperature was most welcome to those of us from northern Europe, in the grip of arctic weather. This was matched by the warmth of welcome from our Greek hosts, who should be congratulated for volunteering to host the meeting at a time of great financial challenge, both for the Hellenic society, and Greece as a whole.

The financial chill across Europe no doubt contributed to a modest number of delegates. The presentations, lectures and panels were generally of high quality, and well received. A session on hot topics in aerospace medicine served to highlight the different approaches to aviation medicine across Europe, and the audience was very animated during this session. It is a format that seems to facilitate the free flow of information on controversial topics. This session followed Professor Mike Bagshaw's excellent presentation on the theme of communication. A knowledge of, and respect for, the varied cultures which exist amongst the members of ESAM, is an essential starting point for good communication.

The ECAM is an important component of this communication, but we must strive to improve, and the web site is very important in this respect. The presence in Athens of Andy Bellenkes, representing AsMA, and his contributions to the ECAM, and to the ESAM General Assembly, further cemented the bond between the two organisations.

ESAM is very grateful to Uwe Stueben, the Deutsche Academie fur Flug und Reisemedezin, and the European School of Aviation Medicine for the donation of a thousand euros for three prizes of 500,300 and 200 euros for the best three papers at the congress. A small committee of myself, Declan Maher, Ries Simons and Paulo Tosco were very consistent in our scoring and I am grateful for their diligence. The top prize went to Dr.Marc-Andre Polet for an excellent paper on the standardisation of speech discrimination testing. The second and third prizes went to Rene Maire and Lt.Col O Paxinos.

At this point I must commend both Roland Vermeiren and Ries Simons, whose papers both scored highly, for excluding themselves from the prize process. Finally a mention goes to Dr Elena Kolesnikova for her presentation on the medical certification of pilots in Russia. This gave us a fascinating insight into the wealth of aerospace expertise in Russia, which can only enhance the body of knowledge in Europe. A big thank you to all those who contributed to, and attended the ECAM and General Assembly.

The ESAM executive committee now has two new members who will contribute to our development in the next two years. We look forward to the next ECAM, to be held with the UK Association of Aviation Medical Examiners, at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel, near Heathrow, in 2012. The aim is to provide an accessible and affordable meeting, and the details will start to appear on the website in 2011.

Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year
Kevin Herbert Vice President.