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Rover

I've upset some people but....

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In the 'most memorable tandem student' thread there is a story about a guy who took an 81 year old man up as his first passenger/student/punter (for those of you who wish to argue semantics)
Quite frankly I think this is madness - and said so - for the following reasons:
- Older folks tend to have weaker bones. If a young person breaks a bone it is generally an 'inconveinence' but for an older person this can lead to them being bedridden and ultimately fatal.
- Older folk tend to be less flexible and therefore more prone to injury.
- In my experience, this lack of flexibilty can lead to more 'interesting' exits than normal.
- The fact that he was allowed to do this jump indicates to me the organization that was supervising this TIs development needs to re-evalute their systems before a serious incident occurs

I've got more than 2000 tandem jumps. I have a Masters degree in OSH and when I'm not 'chucking drogues and shoving cameras in punters faces' I work in hazard identification and accident investigation.

If I've offended anyone, so beit. I make no apologies. If through this I can stop 1 bad decision being made or influence an organization to look at itself and change its ways for the better - cool.

These of course are just my opinions - feel free to flame away...:P
2 wrongs don't make a right - but 3 lefts do.

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What if the old guy understood the risk and wanted to go for it anyway? All the octegenarians I know are well aware that they have limitations.



I think the problem being identified was
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...there is a story about a guy who took an 81 year old man up as his first passenger...



I haven't been following the thread, but it sure sounds like a point I'd agree with. Taking old people (or heavy people) is a special challenge that should be reserved for the most experienced instructors, and not a newcomer on his first (or nearly his first) tandem. It sounds like nothing bad happened, but from a risk management standpoint it reflects poor practices.

It's hard for a beginning instructor to say "no" to such a heart-string pulling jump, so we need solid mentors who can provide the oversight necessary to match instructors with the right students, and to give beginning instructors the experience they need to become great instructors. I'm glad it worked out and became such a positive memory, and I'm not arguing against taking older folks on tandem jumps (I took my own mom for her 65th birthday). But we need to recognize the special risks involved in these jumps, and go the extra mile to manage the risk with our best/most experienced instructors.
Tom Buchanan
Instructor Emeritus
Comm Pilot MSEL,G
Author: JUMP! Skydiving Made Fun and Easy

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I'm glad I live in a society where even 81 year old men can determine the amount of risk they wish to take without someone else telling them what they can't or shouldn't do. Just my $00.02 worth.

Now if that would be my FIRST paying customer, I would hope there would be other more qualified tandem masters to take the old guy.

steveOrino

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it is not a NEW requirement.Your first 15 paying passengers are done on a probationary basis.

75% of the suspended weight, no new(less than 500 jumps) camera fliers, no extrordinary jumps,ie disabled,special circumstances, and no extremely old passenger.

81 years old falls into the extremely older passenger catagory.

Steveorino is right on the money that this guy should have gone with a more experienced instructor.

There are dozens of reasons this should not have been his first paying passenger.

This,in my opinion, shows bad judgement.

I have heard stories of Booth pulling rating for stuff like this.

Ralph Nichols
USPA Tandem I/E

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Who was the supervising examiner? The first 15 passengers are in a probationary period, and the examiner should be limiting their students to average size until they have some experience. At least thats how it was when I got mine.

Johnny
--"This ain't no book club, we're all gonna die!"
Mike Rome

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I don't know the full details, only what I read. I replied voicing my concerns and managed to upset a few people - hence the new thread as it wasn't a thread hijack attempt.

I have taken older people and one of the most memorable was an 87 gentleman called Charlie. At that time I had about a 1000 tandems and waited for 2 months for the most favorable conditions. It went well. I've taken amputees and a guy that was essentially paralysed down one side. I've also refused to take to take numerous people for various reasons.
Tandems are - in my opinion - are about risk assessment and judgement. Some people and organisations need to take this on board.
2 wrongs don't make a right - but 3 lefts do.

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What if the old guy understood the risk and wanted to go for it anyway? All the octegenarians I know are well aware that they have limitations.



You have to take it on a case by case basis. Usually (almost always?), the elderly person will not be a highly experienced jumper, so the TI will have a lot more understanding of the risk than the student will. What if the TI thinks the elderly student is likely to be injured or cause the jump to go tits-up? In that case, yes, the TI should feel free (or even obliged) to overrule the student's desire to assume the risk.

Unlike, say, riding a motorcycle solo, a tandem student does not act alone. Just because a person has the right to assume a risk for himself, doesn't mean that another person cannot refuse to be his enabler.

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you cannot generically reject older people, you have to take everyone on a their own merits. We had a guy at 94, he was the picture of health - liked it so much he did another tandem right after the first.

I have taken MANY people over 80 years old. I have also rejected MANY people over 80 years old.

My oldest is 89, Evelyn Drake in Quincy IL in 1994. She was great, tiny and in good shape and she did well. She wanted to go again the next year and I said 'no'.

Many questions, obviously health questions;
-Bone degeneration?
-artificial joints (a hip could come apart just from the opening shock)
-any metal in their body?
-heart conditions (can they sustain an elevated heart rate of 140+ for 10 minutes or more?)
-Any other conditions?.....i.e. I always state that there is about a 10 minute window from the time we leave the plane to the time we land where this is little or ANYTHING that I can do for you. If you have a condition that can kill you in that 10 minutes, then skydiving may not be for you.
-And finally I discuss what happens if they do get hurt. Landings are not perfect and sometimes even if we do everything right, you can still break something. What will that do for you and your quality of life? Will it ever heal or will you end up dying from pneumonia in a hospital because your ankle never healed and you never walked again?

I just had an 86 year old lady come out because she wanted to jump....she was very active, had no surgeries, no metal, no heart problems, not even medication for anything, not even glasses. She is 5'4" and 120lbs. She is perfect for a tandem skydive and I told her that, but when I discussed her quality of life if she did get hurt, she fully understood that a fracture could be a long heal for her - just the way it is.

I think she was a great candidate, and I would have taken her, but she decided that the risk was too high for her and her life style so she declined.

I will still take her up if she sows up next week. SHe is perfect for it.

I think that most people do not know what to ask of old folks. "My doctor says it's OK" is not good enough. Most doctors know fuck about skydiving. Call their doctor and talk about the PHYSICAL forces of skydiving - opening shock, freefall speeds, the dynamics of landing and what a fracture would do to them. Talk about high levels of adrenaline and elevated heart rates. Speak in real terms they can understand and most doctors will give you an honest opinion about that particular patient and what effect a jump might have on them.

Then you can decide on it with more information.

I think it is way cool to take up someone who is 80+ and I enjoy doing it, but I spend a lot of time with them helping them to make that decision.

After GHB did his first AFF jump I had a guy (with his walker, wheezing and coughing) come out and say "I've been wanting to jump for 50 years"

"Do you have any medical conditions that I should know about sir?"

"Congestive heart failure, but I'll be OK...."

Needless to say, we did no such skydive.

For that matter, all these questions pertain to younger folks that have injuries or conditions, metal in their spines, joint replacements, medications and such.

Almost all of us know a doctor that skydives. Call your skydiver/doctor friend and get an opinion. I have done that at least 12 times in the past 15 years, and I learned a lot of things I never even thought about.......

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It might be nice to have a list of questions, descriptions of forces, potential hazards, etc to send with an older person to his/her doc. "Take this, and discuss it with your doctor, have him sign it, then come back." It sounds like you're already 90% there TK. Help me out man!

Something like this could be a good FAQ, and link to the doc? Any law dogs here feel free to chime in as to why we shouldn't put this information out there!

Martin
AC DZ Wichita Ks
Experience is what you get when you thought you were going to get something else.

AC DZ

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I think someone with extensive experience should be dealing with the elderly. But even I took up the 89 year old with only 150-175 tandem jumps. I was more scared than she was. But I also sought (and received) a lot of help from Bram, Mad Dog, Bill Brandon and others that were there at Quincy.

So if the DZO, or the other staff perhaps dumped that tandem on the 'new guy', then shame on them.

That probably did NOT happen, but I would wonder how the DZO allowed the rookie to be the one to take the passenger. If no one else wants to take him, then it is appropriate to say "Hey, none of the guys are comfortable with this, so I cannot offer it to you...."

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It might be nice to have a list of questions, descriptions of forces, potential hazards, etc to send with an older person to his/her doc. "Take this, and discuss it with your doctor, have him sign it, then come back." It sounds like you're already 90% there TK. Help me out man!



Martin have you seen what those aged 40 and over are required to have signed by their doctor before they can jump? Particularly the Notes for Doctors on the second page.

http://www.bpa.org.uk/forms/docs/form%20115%20-%20tandem%20student%20declaration%5B1%5D.pdf

Those under the age of 40 are required to sign this declaring their fitness to skydive before they can jump.
Skydiving Fatalities - Cease not to learn 'til thou cease to live

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