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Slightly OT - Earplugs


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Can anyone let me know if real soldiers wear earplugs as standard issue when they expect a firefight?

I fired a gun a few years back - always with earplugs, then when I took them off down range someone else fired his gun, just one shot - it was so loud I couldn't hear for a few seconds.

I just don't know how soldiers can fight while everyone around them is shooting, not to mention high caliber weapons.

I assume everyone would go deaf after a 30 minute firefight.

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Deafness is a real issue though; many veterans complain about hearing problems later in life. It doesn't happen in thirty minutes.

Some people are more sensitive to sound just because of their physiology. I don't know if anyone "gets used" to loud noises, but I think one's reactions the first time they fire a weapon is a bit different than what they would expect after being subjected to noise on the firing range (where ear protection is mandatory) and in field training exercises and finally in actual combat.

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Originally posted by fytinghellfish:

In combat you don't wear earplugs. You might not hear something else important, like orders shouted.

Hellfish is right, we have some fancy acoustic blocking type earplugs and the rules say we're supposed to wear them. But between listening for the radio on the move, and just listening on the ground we never do.
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Remember when they used to make you wear your earplug case from your breast pocket as a sign of how much the Army values your hearing? Or am I just showing my age?

When I was a 60 gunner I would wear one in my right ear if I thought about it at all. But even that was just at the range. On patrol they just aren't an option. They always made me feel like I was in a coffee can or something because I was able to hear my breathing and such louder than anything else. This, of course, ruins your ability to hear ambient noise which hinders your ability to pick up sounds that are out of the ordinary, like weapons being charged, faster.

Earplugs are one of those "good idea" things that have too many real world drawbacks to be effective.

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I have a nephew who was a Marine Corps rifle range instructor. I believe he left the Marines on partial disability due to hearing loss. I suspect if they counted the smaller chronic injuries (chronic as-in the rest of your life) as well as the big bloody ones the 'casualty' numbers would jump exponentially.

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We only occasionally wore our ear plugs, even when on the firing range...shooting main guns on M1 tanks. Our CVCs (tanker helmets) provided some hearing protection, but to echo the comments of fytinghellfish, you need to be able to hear orders (especially warnings). When you weren't wearing your CVC you were encouraged to wear hearing protection, even when not on the range because the turbine in the M1 is so bloody loud. Problem was that you could never hear what anyone was saying with them in, so we often went without them.

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During wartime I would be serving with a 95mm recoilless rifle. With that BOOOM I would definately be wearing earplugs as soon as we started shooting! (Not to mention the following shelling from T-85's and artillery...) Actually I'd propably take cup protectors too. It's easier to hear shouted commands with those than with ringing ears.

In WW2 artillerymen sometimes put cotton in their ears. But it wasn't always available. Must've been nasty firing a several hour barrage... then again, it must've been nasty in the receiving end as well.

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During my service in Sweden we used active ear protection. It worked pretty well, you could even get slight amplification of low level sound. Still, it's not the "real thing". Anyone heard of such things being tried in combat? Or is the fear of batteries dying in the wrong moment too high?

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I usually wear earplugs on training excersies. The issued ones I dislike but regular industrial foam ones are awesome and block out less noise and are more comfortable. Only problem is you can't really clean them. I dont have too much more problems hearing. Maybe its an aquired skill. Even if they aren't in all the way, just enough to not fall out, they seem to help quite a bit.

If I ever got shot at, i probably would wear them. Maybe I'm not hardcore enough. Especially concerning roadside bombs I think you might lose your hearing really frickin fast without earplugs at least with my limited experience with explosives. And I know people that managed to work radios with earplugs in, and i've done it even in chaos. I think the disadvantage is mainly psychological unless maybe you're in the same building with the enemy where the stakes might be so thin its not worth taking hte chance. So maybe its something you aughta look into.

Would be nice if they had earplugs that could be activated and deactivated. From what I unbderstand they already have some that block out minimal noise with protection from loud blasts.

[ May 11, 2007, 03:16 PM: Message edited by: PLM2 ]

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Remember when they used to make you wear your earplug case from your breast pocket as a sign of how much the Army values your hearing? Or am I just showing my age?
Hehe, I haven't thought about that in years. That little plastic bottle with the screw on top and the beaded chain. Yeah, we are getting there.
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I was just thinking on this topic too, especially after my AT-4 post. It seems like a real shame if we are giving our veterans and those who serve with hearing loss, something that can never be replaced, when it seems like there should be a solution somehow to prevent it. Lots of people do things in the rashness of youth (like join the military) that have long-reaching consequences in their lives later on. A Vietnam vet I knew years ago said he lost his hearing when someone else's M-16 went off in his ear -- I'm sure this is a common occurence.

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Itael,

My brother, who recently retired from the first Stryker BCT to see combat, is definitely drawing disability pay for chronic service related hearing damage, most of which he attributes to the 30mm Chain Gun on the Bradley CFV he commanded before becoming platoon sergeant in an armed Hummer unit.

My brother in law is in a similar fix, but his was caused by many years of Herky bird piloting. Engines!

There's a great example of barrage effects on hearing in Cornelius Ryan's THE LAST BATTLE. Before the often gun trail to gun trail artillery barrage against Berlin, the gunners were instructed to open their mouths and scream, this to prevent the muzzle blasts from all those densely packed guns from rupturing their ear drums. Didn't work, for the guy Ryan interviewed saw men with blood streaming from their ears as they frantically served the smoking guns. Don't recall whether or not they had cotton waste in their ears as well.

Regards,

John Kettler

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From what I read in the comments here, I think the only real solution is to use some sort of earplugs or headphones that block really loud noises and aplifies the softer ones, maybe something built into the helmet, maybe something similar to the old LASH (sp) that was used by Special forces or SWAT, the technology is there in the David Clark headphones that I use when flying a Cessna. The real problem is of course the size of those earphones.

Otherwise like PLM2 Mentioned, I would rather be using earplugs, even in action, I think it's a psychological thing too.

Itai

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Originally posted by PLM2:

...Would be nice if they had earplugs that could be activated and deactivated. From what I unbderstand they already have some that block out minimal noise with protection from loud blasts.

There are ear plugs that can be "tuned" for certain situations. Here's an example for about $2K:

http://www.espamerica.com/products.php

I think the issue would probably be how well they would work under battlefield conditions.

I have some non-electronic ear plugs (Hearos) that selectively screen out certain frequencies. I used them for amplified music (rock and roll, baby!) or when flying on a plane.

http://www.hearos.com/products-00211.htm

To be honest, the noise riding on a passenger jet kills me. I don't fly without my Hearos (or my Archos with LE's).

http://www.archos.com

http://www.ultimateears.com

The loudest things I have heard are (in order):

1. F-15 eagle driving by the crowd at an air show. The screech from that bastard was enough to kill you.

2. Top Fuel Dragsters. That is a gut-wrenching sound.

I can't even imagine what a big gun must sound like.

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Well the hearing loss I have doesnt make me disabled, but it does help me to tune out the gf when she is on a ranting spree. I suspect it will only get worse when we are married, well that is if I am lucky!

But seriously, the issued ear plugs with said holder is one of the more looney things you are supposed to carry in combat situations. I dont know of anyone who wears them even at the range on a consistant basis. Guess you just get used to being a little deaf. If you think about it, when's the last time you heard any Sgt's whispering? smile.gif

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The earplug cases aren't that old at all. I was wearing it about a year ago today. They only started selling ACUs here about a year and a half ago.

I usually keep earplugs in my uniform. I dunno about the rest of you but I prefer muffled sounds too intense distracting pain and ringing in my ears

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I sleep with earplugs at night, and I am still able to hear my clock radio and other things that are decently loud (including loud talking, not shouting). There seems to be no excuse (except in CQB) to not use hearing protection. Radios can be fitted into headphones (like in NASCAR) and earplugs to keep communication going. Sad that the lack of 2 cents worth of foam being used regularly is costing young men and women their hearing.

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I assume everyone would go deaf after a 30 minute firefight. [/QB]
Maybe not deaf but just one shot can, if your ear is close enough, cause an "acoustic trauma" that may result in a chronic hearing impairment. Acoustic trauma

When I worked as a first aid soldier in the German army, it happened quite a few times that someone forgot to use ear protection and fired his G3 with his ear in close vicinity. Those soldiers had to be taken to a doctor to receive treatment.

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Originally posted by DaveT:

Remember when they used to make you wear your earplug case from your breast pocket as a sign of how much the Army values your hearing? Or am I just showing my age?

I still have one and keep earplugs in it.

Dave

I have mine hanging on my AR, I use em for general shooting, but when I run out late at night to chase the coyotes away I usually forget to put them in lol.

Been looking pretty hard at those electronic ear muffs though. The good ones are rather expensive-$300 or so...

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Ketil, where do you live that you can shoot at coyotes? Also, do you farm, or is there some other reason to chase them off, like family pets, etc. They are a real pain out here in CA, but are protected and can't be harmed without a ton of paperwork, and then only by the local agency.

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