No longer left out in the dark

Infrared lights are invisible to the human eye, but with U Airmed’s latest night-vision goggles, darkness is no longer a problem.

Before Airmed purchased the new military night-vision goggles, pilots were unable to use the older models because of depth perception.

“The new model has better peripheral and depth perception,” said Ken Matthews, Airmed program director and chief flight nurse.

“Pilots will be able to see through the goggles as if it were their own eyes,” Matthews said.

With the improved and much more expensive goggles, visual acuity in the dark is 20/25, compared to the naked eye’s 20/20 vision in the dark.

By filtering light emitted by the flight crew’s goggles, the new model won’t allow the glare to disturb the pilot.

In the past, night goggles would only allow the flight crew stationed in the back to scan the scene.

“For landing in unsecured places, the pilot will now be able to do it on his or her own,” said flight nurse Andrew Knapp.

Airmed has one pair of new image-intensifier goggles and will receive three more next week.

Airmed has had trouble getting the goggles because of military usage, due to the war in Iraq.

“We’ve been competing with the government. We were lucky to get these goggles,” Matthews said.

A set of the newer model costs around $10,000, while an older pair is $3,000.

About one out of seven flight programs in the nation have goggles on board.

U Airmed is the only one in the state.

Night-vision goggles have helped Airmed with rescues such as a plane crash in the Uintahs and a lake plane crash.

“Helicopters can get into trouble with just a searchlight,” Matthews said. “We’re excited about the new goggles.”

Airmed will begin training next week to get accustomed to the equipment.

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