Heaven forbid something terrible happens to you, like a serious illness or accident. But let’s face it, we all know a colleague that has had this fate befall him/her, and we give thanks that it wasn’t us. But what do we do if it does happen to us?
Those of you who have sleeping difficulties and use the CATS and CAR to fall asleep will know that Part 67 governs the flying medical. CAR 67.00.9 is the regulation that tells us that we may not exercise the privileges of our licenses if we are aware of any medical condition or medication that could affect the validity of our medical certificate. It also tells us that we need to notify the designated body – in this case the CAA via our DAME – of any injury, hospitalization, surgery or invasive procedure, regular use of medication, pregnancy, psychiatric treatment, and would you believe, absence due to illness for a period of more than 21 days.
Lets talk about what to do if you are involved in an accident. If you are being taken to hospital in an ambulance and are compos mentis, get the names and numbers of the paramedics who attend to you, so that you can get reports from them. Try and also get details of witnesses to the accidents and anyone who may be able to corroborate your story. It is a good idea to brief family members that in the event of an accident in which you are not conscious or able to communicate, for them to obtain this information.
Get the name and number of any and all doctors who attend to you, and attempt where possible to get the results of any x-rays, scans and blood tests. Let’s just sum it up by saying GET AS MUCH INFORMATION AND EVIDENCE AS POSSIBLE. Quite often trying to get reports and information afterwards is difficult. Once you are on the mend, start asking the relevant doctors and medical staff to write official reports.
Once you are mended, visit your DAME and give him/her all the accumulated data and let him/her declare you fit to fly. All this information will be passed on to the CAA, and if it was an uncomplicated case, it will probably go no further and the OK from your DAME will be enough. If it was a complicated case, it might need to be presented at the Aero medical Panel (to be discussed in a separate edition). Just telling your Chief Pilot that you are now fit to be put back on the roster is not good enough – the CAR says before resuming the exercising of the privileges of the license, you shall furnish the designated institution with proof that you are fully recovered from the decrease in medical fitness
In terms of what to do when diagnosed with an illness, the basics are the same. Obtain copies of x-rays, blood tests, scans etc. Go onto the CAA website and see if there is a protocol applicable for your diagnosis. The protocols can be found by following this trail: www.caa.co.za -> Information for the Industry -> Legal -> Aviation Legislation – > Technical Standards (Personnel Licensing) -> SA-CATS 67 Medical Requirements. At the moment there are 33 protocols. In addition to the protocol for your ailment, you will also need the document entitled 67.00.9.(1) Medication and Flying – this is the document that will guide your doctor when prescribing medication for your condition.
Give the protocol and the medication list to your treating doctor and make him or her understand that your livelihood relies on these this information. However, it would be foolhardy to forgo medical treatment for the sake of maintaining a license!
So what do you do if you get flu or a cold, and your GP prescribes you medication for it? Most GPs are unaware that there are specific protocols and limited medicines that pilots can fly on. They need educating, and you are the one to do it. If you don’t, and you get prescribed and take something that you are not allowed, YOU are breaking the law. Ignorance is not a defense.
OK, so your doctor has prescribed you Viagra. How can you tell if you are allowed to use it and fly? The medication list does not give the trade name of the drugs, it lists the actual drug name. Trade names are different in different countries. You’ll have to google Viagra to find out the drug name, which in this case is Sildenafil, and I’ll leave it to your curiosity to find out whether it can be used and if there are any restrictions!
That brings us to the end of the first exciting installment of Medicals 101. Next time you get to find out all about the Aeromedical Panel, and how it works to get your medical back after a serious illness or accident
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