Denzel Washington Impaired At The Controls? Absolute health

Denzel Washington Impaired At The Controls?    Absolute health

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Denzel Washington Impaired At The Controls?

By Health Coach ⋅ November 26, 2012 ⋅ Post a comment

Denzel Washington stars in a recently released film where he saves the day, but something dark lurks just beneath the surface. Captain Whip Whitaker is an alcoholic in denial. Is this a contributing factor to the crash? I won’t spoil the story, except to say that there are always mitigating circumstances. The movie is decent entertainment, but does raise questions. Are the pilots on your next flight impaired, or walking heart attacks waiting to happen?

The holiday season is just around the corner – it’s the time of year to pack suitcases, pile into the car and head for the airport. Around 90 million people will fly to reach their destinations. On any given day in the United States, there are about 28,000 commercial flights in the air. Most of these flights need two pilots, which means there are about 56,000 pilots flying passengers to their destinations 365 days a year.

Have you ever wondered how healthy your pilots are? You should be concerned, however rest assured that there are several regulations governed by the Federal Aviation Administration designed to protect the flying public. Another classic film - Airplane - famously depicts the consequences of both pilots succumbing to food poisoning. In reality, airborne health and food poisoning events are rare, but when a flight does divert it’s no surprise to hear about it in the news. The relatively recent incident involving a Jet Blue captain points to mental health as well – a point worth noting in this tightly regulated industry.

As an airline pilot, I know well the rigors of maintaining a high physical standard. All pilots must meet strict medical requirements, and are subject to annual physical examinations that test eyesight, blood pressure, hearing, and overall physical well-being. Pilots over 45 years old must also take an EKG annually – the data is transmitted real-time to the FAA for evaluation. The physician or nurse administering the EKG does not intervene in the test results.

Additionally, rules prevent pilots from consuming the same meal entrees in flight. Food poisoning along the lines of Peter Graves’ Clarence Oveur makes for good Hollywood comedy, thankfully. Lastly, all crew members, including flight attendants, are subject to random drug and alcohol testing administered by the Department of Transportation. The positive test rate for all employees engaged in public transportation for hire has been under 1% for several years. Moreover, there are programs available to pilots should the need for rehabilitation arise. Generally speaking, however, there is zero tolerance for being impaired while at the controls. This is all great news for the traveling public.

I’ve personally taken my physical well-being to a higher standard, for several reasons. While ensuring a fruitful and long career, optimizing my personal health to stay disease free is the first priority. Low blood pressure, low cholesterol, normal body weight, low blood sugar and a low heart rate, are all hallmarks of my personal health. I exercise extensively and eat properly – maintaining my health is no different from maintaining the complex systems of a modern jetliner. In my book, neither endeavor is optional. So the next time you board that jet, be confident that your trip will conclude safely and uneventfully, unlike Denzel’s.

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