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Dear Pilot’s Wife,

I hear you. Fair points. And I am sure that, as the wife of a pilot, you know more than me about the ins and outs of plane and flight management. I am not being facetious, here, I mean it. I know jack shit about that stuff. I know nothing about overbooking or cramming employees on fully sold out flights, nothing about the logistics, and very little about law enforcement and whom they answer to, when asked to sort out a big corporate snafu using taxpayer funded manpower and equipment. I don’t know, how this kind of action protects and serves the public. I know little, and I admit to it.

But there’s one thing I know quite a bit about: medicine. And I know a metric poop ton about the brain. Show me a connectome and I tell you the first names and personal relationships of every axiom in it, including whom they smoked dope with in high school.

Unpacking the Issues

So, let’s unpack that part, because it’s important and you might not understand it as well as you understand the plane and pilot part. As a medical professional, I am, believe it or not, first and foremost tasked with keeping my patients alive and happy. No, that’s not just some oath that’s sworn, or a moral issue (though it is), it’s also the law. You see, there’s this “life, liberty…” thingie in the Constitution of this fair country. That’s a guarantee. The guarantors of this line are cops, firemen, medics, and physicians. The law is clear about this: don’t render aid as a guarantor, and you won’t be charged with a misdemeanour, you’ll be charged with a felony commensurate with what happens to the person you are charged with aiding. If I leave you bleeding on the sidewalk, because my company needs me to make money, I will be charged with gross negligence, maybe even manslaughter. Money, even my own, even that of my company, is never an excuse for me to not render aid. So, to me as a medical professional, and to many physicians in this country, “get the fuck out of my plane, my company’s bottom line is very marginally threatened, because I need to cram some of my employees into that box,” doesn’t sound like something I’d trade my patients’ lives or wellbeing for.

“Ok,” you say, “but if a cop tells you to do something, you do it, and then you (and the estate of your patients) sue later.” Fair enough. Let’s continue down the events, then, and see what happened.

What happened?

Cop #3 slams this person’s head so hard against an armrest, he passes out. His left arm performs a clonic movement, his hand cramps around the cellphone. This is where I know my shit. And this is where I, every cop in this country, and every medical professional, know one thing: if a person has a current or known earlier traumatic head injury, they are *not to be moved*! It requires permission by a physician before cops are allowed to move such a person, suspect, perpetrator, victim, bystander, or whatever. If the head’s hit, don’t move ’em. There’s one exception: cops are allowed to move a person, if the movement ends a current or expected threat to or by the patient.

So, what was that threat emanating from this 69-year-old man? Not to other passengers, right? And not to him! Being moved is more of a threat to his health than laying there. No, once again, the only threat is to United’s bottom line, flying, making money, getting some employees somewhere. That’s the threat, that’s whom those cops answered to. Not you, not me, not your husband the pilot, not the passengers, United’s bottom line. Still sound cool?

How about this: on their way to work, a loved one of yours gets into an accident. Rather than waiting for the paramedics and emergency physician, the cops decide to move them, because they’re blocking access to a business’ premises, and that business needs to keep making money. The subdural hematoma in your loved one’s brain swells, they become irate, run up and down, and the brain tries to accommodate, and then they fall over and die. Would you still defend the request of that business, for cops to look out for them first?

Can you blame a guy for running back? Not if he’s been hit on the head like that, you can’t.

And, as important, would you still believe your loved one to be the culprit for running up and down? You see, a good bang on the head can do a lot of things to people. One of which is a half-twilight state of mind. Basal things still work, reason doesn’t so well, anymore. That’s when people run away from medical support, fight cops, try to choke me, the guy here to help. And that’s why we don’t move them in the first place, because that’s precisely what triggers it.

So he ran back? Yeah, I see that a lot with victims of violence. People who have had trauma like this want to get back to hat Base Zero point, mentally, where they were before they were beaten up. Especially if the head is involved. Very especially, if they were out of it, while being moved from that space.

Those police officers defied the guidelines for protecting and serving the public in favour of serving a billion dollar corporation’s need to fix a booking snafu. Your husband may be a pilot, and I appreciate your words, but we’re also all humans and citizen of this amazing country. And in this amazing country, we don’t callously accept the potential death of someone, just so a company doesn’t have to pay a 1/490,000th of its annual profit.

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