Friday, October 19, 2012

Microwave effects

 Sitting in the Cardiologist's office getting my newly installed
pacemaker checked out, I recalled a long ago event.

In the early 1970's, I was the “token pilot” in the AF Systems Command Surgeon General's Office. One day at lunch, with my boss and several doctors, they were discussing the recently discovered problem of microwave

ovens on pacemakers. After listening for a few minutes I asked if the huge over the horizon radar right next to the New Jersey Turnpike could be a problem. For a few minutes, you could have heard a pin drop. Then, there

was a flurry of discussion ending up with a call to the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks AFB. The School had 6 dogs implanted with different pacemakers, which were immediately flown up and driven passed the radar site. Damn dogs died. However, they recovered once well out of range of the site.
My boss called me one night and just said “they all died” and I was to go brief a four star general, who would be expecting me. It was all pretty hush hush because that radar site was the only early warning system for incoming missiles along the entire east coast. This was still cold war time.
So, at 11:30 at night I briefed the general in his PJs. He thanked me and said 

he'd have to get dressed and go to the pentagon. The radar site was shut down that night. Uh ooh!!

Fortunately that wasn't the result. A couple weeks later, a man stopped by the radar site, and talked to the Captain that was in charge of the site. The man 

said his wife wore a pacemaker, and every time they drove by the huge radar, she would feel faint and the man wanted to know if the radar would effect the pacemaker. The Captain told him he didn't think so because the radar was shut down. Ahhhh safe.

My new pacemaker has a lot more protection, thankfully.

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