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redtwiga

Moral Dilemma-What would you do?

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A newer jumper (50+ jumps) revealed to me in confidence yesterday that she has epilepsy. She said she hasn't had seizures in months, which, frankly, does not sound very long to me. She said she only seems to get them when she is very relaxed, they haven't knocked her out in about 6 years and they only last about 5 seconds. When I asked about medication she said the side effects were too rough for her.
I am really worried that this could become an issue on a skydive, however I don't want her to have to stop jumping or "rat her out". I know a life is more important than anger, but what alternatives might there be?
Anyone with some experience?
Thanks!
Aviva

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Interesting dilemma. Years ago i knew a guy who was epileptic,but he didn't tell anyone at the dropzone.(we found out after he bounced) He was jumping a racer (no auto opener) and had a seizure in freefall. Went in with nothing out. At the same dz we had a guy who was known to us to be epileptic and it wasnt a problem so long as he had his auto opener .

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There's no moral dilemma here. You need to talk with your local S&TA - not only for her safety, but for those she's jumping with... What if you retained this knowledge and she took some skydivers out?
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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I am really worried that this could become an issue on a skydive



One thing I've learned in my brief years in skydiving...if it CAN happen, it WILL.

As bigun said, their is no moral dilemma here..talk to the S&TA about it. Even though it may have been said in confidence, this affects anyone she skydives with.
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

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Good point. Up until now I had only been thinking about her - and I guess I believe that ultimately a person makes their choices, takes their chances. But when someone else could get harmed too...well that's a whole new ball of wax.

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Unless they do nothing but solos (preferably on their own pass) and no one minds a solo bounce, then DZ management, the S&TA, and anyone jumping with her should have the right to know.
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You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

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Has a doctor cleared her to drive a car?

5 seconds of sesure driving 50 MPH into oncoming traffic in a school zone is a huge deal. In fact, I would be MUCH more worried about her driving a car (in reference to the 3rd party risk) than skydiving. It would take large amounts of bad luck for a seizure to injure a 3rd party in skydiving, whereas behind the wheel a slight loss of control means a head on collision...

I know of three people who successfully skydive with epilepsy, but they also have it stabilized and are cleared to do things like drive a car...

I know the others say to "rat her out" to the DZO or the S&TA.

I disagree. Talk with her, explain the issues, and give her the opportunity to discuss the "issue" with the DZO and S&TA. If she refuses, then you can think about doing it for her, but she is a grown person and should have the right to initiate the conversation. Your job is to mentor her on why and how to initiate that conversation.

Also, so she can continue to skydive, encourage her to see a doctor (if she doesn't already have a doctors release for activities) and get a release and get on the meds if the doc thinks they are needed... It will make it easy for her if she has documentation...

That is my feeling...

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It would take large amounts of bad luck for a seizure to injure a 3rd party in skydiving,



That's because you haven't seen it occur in freefall - while turning, which caused the spinnup, which caused them to kick another skydiver in the head, who was knocked out, no AAD (early 80's), who was on their back flailing, came to enough to pull their reserve, flare and land. When the seizured kickee got on the ground. The skydiver with seizures apologized and told everyone then. Upon hearing this; the skydiver, friend of mine, and recently discharged member of the 82nd Airborne who was knocked out - dropped his gear on the ground in front of the DZO and said, "I'm done - that's for sale." Now, in all fairness he'd just had a child about four month's previously and getting knocked out in freefall was a wake-up call (sorry about the pun); However, if the skydiver had disclosed this to him, he would have had a _choice_ as to make the jump with the other diver. He may have, he may not have; but he would have been informed.

Finally, you can't tell me you haven't seen someone at this stage in their progression start moving towards larger formations and who hasn't seen one taken out by one's approach from to high of an angle of attack from 30' and wipe out the formation... 5 seconds of seizure was mentioned. How many feet is that in freefall?

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and give her the opportunity to discuss the "issue" with the DZO and S&TA. If she refuses, then you can think about doing it for her, but she is a grown person and should have the right to initiate the conversation.



I agree with this, but would put a "before your next jump" clause on it. I'm all for individual freedoms and shit. I've jumped with folks with all kinds of afflictions; diabetes, cancer, African-American, epilepsy, bum tickers, missing limbs, etc. But, individual freedom means just that and when it may affect someone else's life; you have to respect their individual freedoms and give them the right to choose.

And, in that vane, I agree with JP. If I still had a DZ and someone approached me with that - you're more than welcome to do solo HopNPops until you get on the meds and a doctor's clearance to drive at 120 mph.

[ Please tell me you know that was a joke based on the other thread about African-Americans. ]
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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I disagree. Talk with her, explain the issues, and give her the opportunity to discuss the "issue" with the DZO and S&TA. If she refuses, then you can think about doing it for her, but she is a grown person and should have the right to initiate the conversation. Your job is to mentor her on why and how to initiate that conversation.

Also, so she can continue to skydive, encourage her to see a doctor (if she doesn't already have a doctors release for activities) and get a release and get on the meds if the doc thinks they are needed... It will make it easy for her if she has documentation...

That is my feeling...



Tdog, I cant really add much to this but maybe you know the form that I am thinking about. Its a medical form for pilots, not sure where to find it but maybe the poster could print it out and ask her to bring it to her doctor. I think your advise is spot on, us new jumpers often do things out of our capacity because we think it will be okay...maybe the poster should let her know his thoughts and how he feels about him being in this dilemma in regards to her safety as well as others.

Either way, good luck, I do not envy the position the original poster is in.
Sudsy Fist: i don't think i'd ever say this
Sudsy Fist: but you're looking damn sudsydoable in this

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Ummm, don't you have to sign a medical form when you sign up to jump?
I know we require all students to do this.

People can control this with medication, and it is probably irresponsible of her not to take them.

Maybe just get her to get an AAD.

I think true friendship is under-rated

Twitter: @Dreamskygirlsa

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I'm with tdog on this one. I'd even go so far as to say that maybe the meds arent necessary for her if she doesnt want to take them--but these are all things that the original poster needs to talk to the person about in great detail. People get kicked in the head ALL THE TIME--and most of the time, it's NOT by someone with epilepsy. We generally dont kick them out of the sport for having epilepsy and we generally dont throw a fit and sell our gear over the incident (it sounds to me like your friend quit because he realized just how dangerous the sport could be in light of what he was leaving on the ground every time he went up and i don't fault him for that in the least). If this jumper really poses a threat to themself or others then its up to the S&TA or the DZO to decide and it's the original posters obligation (IMHO) to breach the subject and do so with the knowledge of the jumper in question. Personally, I would at the very least ask them to keep me updated on their seizures and ensure that they jump with an AAD and avoid stuff like...swooping? Five seconds of blackout at exit or mid-jump is not a big deal, right? But it's a huge deal at pull time, a malfunction, a canopy collision, etc. Talk with the jumper some more and learn about their specific kind of epilepsy. Like tdog said, there are a nubmer of jumpers out there who have epilepsy but are able to control it with and without medication. If your conscious is really eating you up about it then take it to a senior jumper around the dz who you respect and trust and get their input on this specific situation. I know that's kind of what you're doing now but there's always specifics that make a solution ideal for that particular situation. If that person doesnt exist, talk to your S&TA.

just my two cents
~alan

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I agree with everything you've said. I stepped back from my orginal knee-jerk reaction of going to an S&TA or DZO and agreed with tdog also. We are all in agreement and saying the same thing about approaching her directly with the dilemma and sharing his concerns about _mostly_ her safety. We all know the risks we're taking, I know the risk I'm taking when I jump with someone with epilepsy or diabetes or sumpin. As a group, while we are somewhat dysfunctional; we are also the most tolerant group of socially-disconnected misfits.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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However, if the skydiver had disclosed this to him, he would have had a _choice_ as to make the jump with the other diver. He may have, he may not have; but he would have been informed.



A great point was made in this statement.


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Maybe just get her to get an AAD.



And what about me? I can ask people their skill levels, and get verification from other jumpers, I can trust an organizers opinion. I can choose to get off a skydive that has "zoo" potential. But how do I protect myself against an non-disclosed condition that both the FAA and DMV will pull licence's for because of safety concerns?
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You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

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JP makes a good point and I guess that's part of the argument for AADs in general--you DONT know the skill level (or undisclosed medical conditions) of some of the people you'll jump with--especially as an instructor. To me, that's only more reason to get an AAD. But hey, that's me. I won't jump without an AAD--with or without epileptic jumpers around. Not everyone is as big of a chicken as I am.

I am curious to hear what the original poster decided to do....

~alan

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And what about me? I can ask people their skill levels, and get verification from other jumpers, I can trust an organizers opinion. I can choose to get off a skydive that has "zoo" potential. But how do I protect myself against an non-disclosed condition that both the FAA and DMV will pull licence's for because of safety concerns?



Well, I guess that is where the trust factor comes in - in our culture of skydiving where we have to always trust our friends...

When you jump with someone you have to trust they are disclosing the entire truth especially when you are counting on them. (As in the master of a TM pair, or in a complicated jump)...

But, this person with epilepsy has only 50 jumps. I would be much more worried about what they are going to do to me while fully awake then in the middle of a seizure. Hard docks, bad dives, poor tracks...

That is why I suggested someone mentor this skydiver into the culture of telling the truth and informing their friends about the possible risks...

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if her doctor cleared her to skydive then he is probably the best to judge her competency.

the problem with telling people (as you might as well have done after outing her on these boards) is that people are scared of the unknown. if she has an AAD then she is of little risk to herself and no more risk than brain locking idiots or dive bombing idiots that we already have to deal with.

i hope that the detectives that already know you and who is new at your dz don't read this post and she is able to continue to experience skydiving as she always has. you should also tell her that if she "confides" in any more people it will probably be all over any how.

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Redtwiga... my 2 cents...

There is no Dilemma here. :| She shouldn't be skydiving.

For what its worht... I would talk to her and try to help her realize that. She can easily stop skydiving and disappear from the sport with out being "outted" or "ratted out" to the DZO or S&TA. If she doesn't see it that way and decides to continue to jump, then its up to you to decide for yourself if you want to say something to the DZO or S&TA along the lines that you know of someone that has a medical condition that might be good reason to preclude them from jumping.

Also for what its worth... once in the past, I was faced with a decission on whether or not to advise an up-jumper to reconsider jumping because of a medical condition. I decided to be "cool" and not tell them it wasn't a good idea for them to be jumping now. A lot of times being "cool" gets you in trouble... I've learned that when the feeling comes over me to "be cool" and "just keep my mouth shut" that should serve as a warning to pause and rething things... sorry, its part of getting older and gaining wisdom from experience in life. Anyway, this person hurt themself on the very next jump. I'm not going to give details, so just push the "I believe" button if you can, but it could have been much much worse AND there was no real good reason for it all, is all I'm going to say other then to say, that if faced with a similar situation in the future, I WOULD advise them, one-on-one, NOT to jump and if they persisted with their intention to skydive I WOULD go to the DZO and S&TA and inform them of the situation and my opinion... you know what they say about opinions.


Being medically fit to skydive and/or disclosing any medical conditions which may preclude us from skydiving is in the waiver, and "Yes" we've all signed it.

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There is no Dilemma here. She shouldn't be skydiving.



Then neither should 1/3 of the population with high blood pressure, poor eye sight, etc... With modern medicine, many things can be "fixed" to the point people can live successful and rewarding lives.

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There is no Dilemma here. She shouldn't be skydiving.



Then neither should 1/3 of the population with high blood pressure, poor eye sight, etc... With modern medicine, many things can be "fixed" to the point people can live successful and rewarding lives.



Get over yourself and the desire to always be right. My opinion... not yours... I can live with that.

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i agree with you, anyone with a medical condition should not be excluded from the sport unless it can be proven that they WILL be a danger to themselves and/or others. If they have medical clearance to jump, then in my opinion it only becomes a matter of education of other jumpers - looking at risk and management - and dispelling any fear (as said - of the unknown).

I myself have a medical condition. The chances of my condition causing injury to others (contrary to popular belief!) is pretty non-existent - this from my doctor and other experts. My DZO and DZSO know, as do people that jump with me. If anyone has a problem, or thinks there is a risk involved, they usually ask questions and i set them straight. Everyone has been very supportive despite the general opinion of my particular condition - something to remember, ive found that skydivers are generally very supportive of their own. Someone someday may decide that they dont want to jump with me - but i will still jump! If im not a danger, why the hell should i be excluded from doing something that i love? If someone else feels uncomfortable - through fear, ignorance, whatever, then fine, they dont HAVE to jump with me. I am not going to miss out and be told that i cannot jump by someone who does not have ALL the facts.

this person should be encouraged to talk to their DZSO, with backup from their doctor that they are fit enough to jump. they should not be made to feel like a "leper" or that they are unable to pursue their dreams because of illness. Wouldnt be better as stated to mentor and support this person? allow them their dream, and keep them and others safe at the same time?

It is useful being able to talk to other jumpers about a medical conditon, and let them make the decision, however in this scenario this person will need s great deal of strength and support in dealing with peoples fears, ignorance or rejection if other jumpers simply dont feel comfortable enough to jump with them. a little bit of support can go a long long way.

i also think that going to a public forum such as this, where you and therefore this person could be idenitified, without this person knowing is pretty poor darts. If it was me, id be pretty pissed off! I understand the need to discuss, but a little anonmity could be good! People discussing something like this without having all the facts about this person's condition could just spread fear and lead to discrimination/stigma.

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Are you referring to "Starsky" at the Poor Indians club in New Jersey?
“The only fool bigger than the person who knows it all is the person who argues with him.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec quotes (Polish writer, poet and satirist 1906-1966)

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Simple rule in the UK - medicated illnesses are acceptable subject to an approved medical practitioner knowing the FULL history of the individual signing the individual off as fit to jump allows them to train and jump, I have firends with bum eyes, tickers and yes epilepsy who all jump - but if it undeclared as an illness then personally I would step up and say something to the individual in confidence now and give them the opportunity - then if the person does nothing about seek advice preferably from a knowledgeable and respected jumper at the DZ and get them to join the conversation over a beer, unless we are medical practicioners we cannot really comment on a medical issue - BUT! we do have to trust the people we jump with to be as concerned for our safety as thier own

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...I disagree. Talk with her, explain the issues, and give her the opportunity to discuss the "issue" with the DZO and S&TA. If she refuses, then you can think about doing it for her, but she is a grown person and should have the right to initiate the conversation. Your job is to mentor her on why and how to initiate that conversation.



She has already proven herself unwilling to discuss the issue with DZ management of any sort. She has actively kept it secret. 50 jumps after, she confides to an up-jumper.

No-brainer...Let the DZO and S&TA know...immediately.

They are the ones to make the call at that DZ...nobody else. You help hide it and you become equally responsible for anything that might happen.

Personally, if I was the DZO, I would throw her off the DZ for hiding it in the first place and proving herself untrustworthy to start with and endangering my business, my customers and the entire skydiving industry.

Up front and honest to start with is the only way.

Call me a hard-ass if you like.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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I agree with Popsjumper 100%... and I had a seizure disorder for several years (haven't had one in many years now), so can see both sides of this acutely.

Someone who is refusing medication based on 'side effects' hasn't tried enough meds or worked well enough with their doctor and doesn't understand how seizures work and long term effects on the brain. The fact that she isn't taking the seizures seriously enough is the first red flag.

Second is that she didn't disclose this to the DZ to begin with.... other people need to know what to look for in her with regard to her seizures. Other people need to make educated decisions regarding getting in the plane with someone with a known seizure disorder that is only a few months seizure free and not taking meds to control them.

Third... a few months seizure free is meaningless. A few years seizure free would be better.

I'm not saying she shouldn't jump... more needs to be known about her condition... what kind of seizures? (grand mal? Petit mal? Partial? Simple vs. complex?) What are her symptoms? Does she get an aura before the seizures? What triggers her seizures? Is she still under a neurologist's care? Did her neurologist OK her jumping?

Jen

Do or do not, there is no try -Yoda

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