Not the brightest......


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"I think have a problem, help me."

One of the most difficult aspects to alcoholism is that many who have it will not say those words. They don't believe they have a problem, or that it's any big deal. However, many alcoholics have been successfully treated even though they had to be confronted with the reality of their situation. By insisting that only those who can admit their problem up front will be the ones to retain their jobs, you condemn people who could have otherwise dealt with the problem and gone on to be productive employees.

Alcoholism is a complex disease, not the least because it's a physical as well as mental condition. If you or I have an ulcer, there's usually no problem with us recognizing it and seeking help. But alcoholism affects the mind as well as the body, and it ALWAYS affects the person's JUDGMENT. So, when we turn our backs on alcoholics who have not shown sound judgment, as in confessing their situation, we condemn them because of the disease.

So requiring an employee to confess their alcoholism as a condition of continued employment is bad policy because it does not recognize the nature of the disease, and because it is wasteful of human resources.

There already is zero tolerance for someone entering the cockpit in an impaired state, and that injunction extends to ANY condition which might negatively affect your ability to fly. It is completely unacceptable for a pilot to attempt to fly while impaired, and anyone caught trying will suffer very heavy sanctions indeed.

The prohibitions and sanctions are largely effective, as well. As far as I know, the airline accident rate where alcohol plays a factor is exceedingly small. It's always troubling when a pilot is caught breaking the rules, and of course it should never happen, but statistically is there a systemic problem? No.

And that's yet another reason why airlines can afford to take a rational and enlightened approach to this condition. There are stringent checks and balances all the way through the system to minimize the chances that ANY pilot impairment will impact safety. Those checks and balances are effective. The disease, if you will, is contained. Therefore, turn our resources to successful treatment. That's the humanly decent thing to do.

neo

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"I think have a problem, help me."

One of the most difficult aspects to alcoholism is that many who have it will not say those words. They don't believe they have a problem, or that it's any big deal. However, many alcoholics have been successfully treated even though they had to be confronted with the reality of their situation. By insisting that only those who can admit their problem up front will be the ones to retain their jobs, you condemn people who could have otherwise dealt with the problem and gone on to be productive employees.

Alcoholism is a complex disease, not the least because it's a physical as well as mental condition. If you or I have an ulcer, there's usually no problem with us recognizing it and seeking help. But alcoholism affects the mind as well as the body, and it ALWAYS affects the person's JUDGMENT. So, when we turn our backs on alcoholics who have not shown sound judgment, as in confessing their situation, we condemn them because of the disease.

So requiring an employee to confess their alcoholism as a condition of continued employment is bad policy because it does not recognize the nature of the disease, and because it is wasteful of human resources.

There already is zero tolerance for someone entering the cockpit in an impaired state, and that injunction extends to ANY condition which might negatively affect your ability to fly. It is completely unacceptable for a pilot to attempt to fly while impaired, and anyone caught trying will suffer very heavy sanctions indeed.

The prohibitions and sanctions are largely effective, as well. As far as I know, the airline accident rate where alcohol plays a factor is exceedingly small. It's always troubling when a pilot is caught breaking the rules, and of course it should never happen, but statistically is there a systemic problem? No.

And that's yet another reason why airlines can afford to take a rational and enlightened approach to this condition. There are stringent checks and balances all the way through the system to minimize the chances that ANY pilot impairment will impact safety. Those checks and balances are effective. The disease, if you will, is contained. Therefore, turn our resources to successful treatment. That's the humanly decent thing to do.

neo

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No problem with the employer "keeping you" but--in what capacity? My position is that the alcohol-dependent employee cannot continue as an active pilot or, for that matter, as a flight attendant---the potential consequences of a remission are too devastating to the consumer who ultimately bears the consequence of misplaced "forgiveness".

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Perhaps you are unaware that there are a significant number of pilots who are successfully treating their alcoholism and who are therefore actively on duty as flightcrew members.

The conditions under which they are able to return to work are very stringent, and monitoring of the disease continues to ensure that there's no backsliding.

As far as the medical authorities are concerned, alcoholism is handled the same way as any disease or condition which can negatively affect the performance of your duties: you're off the line until you can show that the condition won't affect your flying, and then you must prove on an ongoing basis that the disease or condition is no longer a factor.

As I said, the conditions under which the medical authorities will consider returning your license to you under these circumstances are very stringent.

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I don't think anyone in a risk-sensitive environment is exempt. Neo...you reference the status quo regarding the continued employment as active pilots of individuals identified as having alcohol-related issues. In fact, I was aware of the fact that non-incident related disclosure and resulting treatment and confirmation of continued "recovery", would enable a return to the cockpit BUT....as a question of "risk-management", the company is exposed which is recognized and results in higher premiums. There is always a "cost"...and at whose expense? I couldn't nor would I attempt to criticize your generosity of spirit. I tend, however, to the more "draconian" and am far less forgiving in absolute terms.

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Before you crusify the guy remember he is innocent until proven guilty. We had one of these security morons accuse one of our pilots of the same thing. The myopic little nazi couldn't have picked a better guy. The pilot he accused doesn't drink! Give the guy his day in court before you cast the first stone.

Labtec

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Assume the pilot's an alcoholic.

When someone becomes aware of the fact that they've got cancer, they seek professional help. Why then does the alcoholic wait until he's caught before seeking help? The same goes for child molesters!

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I'm not aware if there is any change in premiums (I assume you're refering to insurance) for pilots in this situation. As far as I know, you're either fit to fly or you aren't, and the insurance doesn't vary throughout the 'fit' category. But I could be wrong.

As for the cost, consider the cost of losing a highly trained individual, someone who may have decades of experience and knowledge, and in whom you've invested tens of thousands of dollars. If you can facilitate a recovery, the return on your investment continues and your employee returns to productivity.

The program in place to assist alcoholic pilots returning to work is an extremely well thought out strategy. It's one of the few times where you can see all parties to the matter... the regulators, the unions and the employers... all pulling together to make something work. A huge amount of thought went into it, and son-of-a-gun if the program hasn't been successful at helping pilots overcome the disease and return to work.

Everyone wins: the travelling public is safer, the employee gets healthy, the employer's investment is protected. When you stack all that up against (what boils down to) a desire to exact some kind of punitive consequence, the scales tip firmly in favor of treatment, and when appropriate a return to work.

Best wishes,

neo

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Over the years I’ve observed that “the job” is usually the last aspect of an alcoholics life that turns bad. For some reason, perhaps a prioritization thing, they seem to save that for the "crisis", which in turn brings about change or a complete downward spiral. In any case, the jury has not spoken to this yet and judging by the security I’ve seen, it may very well turn out to be a cherry gum incident. Cheers.

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Guest M. McRae

They will not even let the poor guy go home for Christmas even though they let him out on bail.

Note Lawyers remark re "Heart Condition"

Drink-Charge Airliner Pilot Remanded on £15,000 Bail

A veteran Virgin Atlantic Airways pilot accused of showing up drunk to fly a plane with almost 400 passengers from Washington to London was released from jail in the United States tonight after posting a bail bond of £15,600.

Authorities ordered Richard George Harwell to surrender his passport and not to leave the US.

Harwell, 55, was dressed in an orange jumpsuit when he appeared for his bond hearing on a closed circuit television link from jail, where he has been held since his arrest at Washington Dulles International Airport late Friday.

Security staff alerted Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police after detecting alcohol on Harwell’s breath, an airport spokeswoman said.

Officers escorted Harwell off the plane and questioned him at the airport before charging him with attempting to operate an aircraft while under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol.

An authority officer testified he approached Harwell shortly before the plane’s scheduled departure. He said no passengers were on board and flight crew were preparing the cabin.

Harwell spent the weekend at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center in Leesburg, about 40 miles west of Washington DC.

The Virgin Atlantic veteran of 14 years remains suspended by the airline, which said Harwell is a US citizen who lives in London and had a spotless record with the company.

Paul Moore, a spokesman for Virgin Atlantic, said the British Airline Pilots Association posted the bond for Harwell and the airline was paying his legal fees.

Harwell’s lawyers tried to persuade Loudoun County Traffic Court Judge James Forsythe to allow their client to return home to Britain.

“He’s not doing well. He has a medical condition – a heart condition,” lawyer Thomas Hill told the judge. Outside court Hill declined to elaborate.

“He’s a model of stability in terms of his life,” Hill told the judge. He said his client has been married 25 years, and his wife and two children live in London. “He’s not a flight risk at all.”

Prosecutors were against any bond because Harwell lives overseas.

The 383 passengers and crew of 17 on flight VS 022 spent Friday night at local hotels, with their flight finally leaving Saturday night, more than 26 hours late. Passengers received a voucher for a free flight on the airline.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it would carry out a civil investigation along with Virginia’s criminal investigation. The FAA licenses pilots to fly within the United States.

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I post an excerpt from the "DSM" notice number 4. Lets not be to harsh on our fellow man with our "opinions". Look at the list and think of how many people we would just write off and what we would be doing to them and their families if we took your view that these things are just weaknesses.

DSM not the only major system in use (ICD-10)

ICD-10 and DSM-IV are reasonably similar to one another.

DSM-IV uses a multiaxial approach to diagnosis

Five Axis

axes tap different aspects of the patient's functioning and are intended to give a more complete, balanced view of the individual

I. Clinical Disorders. The mental disorders are diagnosed on this

dimension. The diagnostician can also note conditions of clinical significance that do not qualify for a diagnosis. They are organized into 16 categories.

1. Disorders first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence

2. Delirium, dementia, and amnestic and other cognitive disorders

3. Mental disorders due to general medical condition

4. Substance-related disorders

5. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

6. Mood disorders

7. Anxiety disorders

8. Somatoform disorders

9. Factitious disorders

10. Dissociative disorders

11. Sexual and gender identity disorders

12. Eating disorders

13. Sleep disorders

14. Impulse-control disorders not elsewhere classified

15. Adjustment disorders

16. Other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention

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Guest M. McRae

New law fails to impose flight ban on airline pilots caught drinking

By Barrie Clement, Transport Editor

23 December 2003

Airline pilots caught be drunk on duty may be able to exploit a loophole in new legislation and keep flying. Although a Transport Safety Act, to come into force next year, gives police the power to breathalyse flight crew and gives courts the power to fine or imprison, it fails to provide a mechanism for withdrawing a pilot's licence.

The Department for Transport confirmed yesterday that unlike the laws on motoring, the new law meant to clamp down on "drinking and flying", did not require courts to notify the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the industry's safety regulator, of a conviction. Only the CAA has the power to stop a pilot flying by withdrawing medical certification.

Industry sources confirmed yesterday that flight crew dismissed for drinking before reporting for duty, were often able to find employment elsewhere "within weeks". Pilots sacked from a big airline might reappear on the flight deck working for a lesser-known charter or freight company. The new law does not necessarily stop that happening, said Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, a charitably funded watchdog.

"It is clearly not satisfactory to expect the CAA to hear of such incidents through the media or by chance. The travelling public has a right to know justice will be followed through a complete process. I hope Parliament will look again at the issue to ensure that the law is adequate for these, albeit rare, cases."

At the weekend, a Virgin Atlantic pilot was arrested in Washington DC while preparing to fly a jumbo jet to Britain with 383 passengers after he had been allegedly drinking.

Captain Richard Harwell, 55, an American who lives with his family in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, was due to appear at a bail hearing yesterday to be formally accused of the offence. He faces a jail sentence of up to five years if convicted. He was arrested after airport staff smelt alcohol on his breath.

In Britain, the Railways and Transport Safety Act, which comes into effect early next year, sets a limit for pilots of 20 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood, a quarter of the drink-drive limit. Police are given powers to conduct tests on "reasonable suspicion".

But there is no provision for random testing. British Airways has been trying to introduce such a system for nearly three years but it has been resisted by the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa).

The union says random tests have "serious flaws" and fail to protect passengers. Balpa said that in the United States where random testing and a "peer intervention programme" ran for 10 years, only 80 out of 80,000 pilots failed tests. But 550 had been named, helped and returned to work under the peer pressure scheme.

Detecting the problem and dealing with it, rather than catching the odd individual and punishing them, is at the heart of the peer pressure system, the union believes.

Eric Appleby, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern said it was "astonishing" that Balpa was opposing random testing. "These pilots are responsible for the safety of hundreds of people at a time," he said. "The idea that pilots should be exempt from this kind of test when others such as rail drivers are not, seems incredible."

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/transport/story.jsp?story=475700

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"Why then does the alcoholic wait until he's caught before seeking help?"

Well, I guess the obvious answer would be denial, which is one of the most common characteristics of substance abuse. But if you're inferring that there are people who all of a sudden announce that they're alcoholics to avoid taking responsibility for their own reckless stupidity, you won't get any argument from me. Alcoholics or not, I still think they should face the consequences of their actions.

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Accepting accountability and responsibility for ones actions is a fundamental part of the treatment program. Nowhere are addicts in treatment given a "free pass”, the acceptance of consequences and making amends to others is a part without which one will never experience recovery. Whether time in jail, a loss of family, career, etc. the consequences are very real, notwithstanding, forgiveness and redemption are available too.

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