Lauren had ambitions to be a professional sportswoman in netball and cricket. But a career-ending injury to her shoulder forced her to take a chance at something new.
She decided to pursue a career in aviation, as many of her high-school friends had done. As she enrolled to start her training, she never gave a second thought about her lifestyle or history with alcohol.
Lauren had a prior conviction for driving under the influence when she was 18. She had also picked up a second conviction of driving under the influence two years before starting her new career.
Excited to get a jump start to think about her past, she signed up to a flying school and focused on the new chapter of her life. She soon became busy with her studies and didn’t find time to see a Designated Aviation Medical Examiner (DAME).
Coming clean with her story
Lauren found a DAME near where she lived that she used and made an appointment.
During her appointment Lauren admitted that she had two convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. The DAME told Lauren that Aviation Medicine (AvMed) would want to know more about her history.
Alcohol and illicit drug are major causes of airline accidents. Research shows that pilots with a history of driving under the influence have a 43% greater risk of aviation related crashes.
AvMed asked Lauren to provide a copy of a National Police Certificate and complete some blood tests. The results of the blood tests showed excessive alcohol consumption.
“I’d called myself an idiot when I got the conviction, and had vowed never to drink and drive again,” Lauren said. “But after hearing from AvMed, I started to wonder whether all that money I’d spent on flight training to date might end up being wasted.”
Seeing the specialist
AvMed referred Lauren to a drug and alcohol specialist. The specialist told Lauren that her alcohol consumption was harmful and put her at higher risk of accident and injury.
Based on the recommendations of the drug and alcohol specialist Lauren decided to stop drinking alcohol and found she did not miss it. Lauren also noted better energy levels and that her weight improved.
The specialist provided AvMed with a plan to support and monitor Lauren over the next 12 months.
Getting a police report and waiting for the blood test results delayed Lauren’s flying training. Lauren wished that she had started the medical process earlier but felt she was now on track having received positive comments from her GP and specialist.
New test results return
By not drinking alcohol, Lauren’s blood tests normalised. The specialist then provided AvMed with a favourable report on Lauren’s improved health.
With this new report, Lauren received a medical certificate with restrictions, including:
- regular reviews with her DAME
- extra blood tests
- an appointment with the drug and alcohol specialist.
“I always knew that the tests would be normal because I had made some big lifestyle changes,” Lauren said. “And I was back exercising the way I did when I was younger.”
At the end of her first certificate, she saw the specialist again. Based on all the information now available, AvMed renewed her certificates without restrictions.
Not only was Lauren happy to have this all behind her, but she also felt healthier too.