Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are You Fit for Service?

Checklist for license renewal:

  • Sea time letter(s): check
  • Application completed: check
  • Current form of identification: check
  • Valid TWIC card: check
  • Proof of drug testing: check
  • Physical exam completed by doctor: check
  • Checkbook to pay fees: check
  • BMI under 40: HUH?

Last week, the USCG issued NVIC 04-08, which actually references about 80 pages of new regulations concerning the medical requirements to obtain or renew a USCG credential (i.e. license). The 80 or so pages are spread out in eight enclosures, numbered 1 through 6, but including 3a and 3b (hence the total of 8. Confused yet? Me too...)

So, what's the beef? Actually, the question is Where's the fat? Thats right, fat, as in body fat, sometimes measured as Body Mass Index, aka BMI. Lets cut right to the chase. Enclosure #2 lays out the Physical Ability Guidelines. Paragraph 2 states in part:

If the medical practitioner doubts the applicants ability to meet the guidelines....and for all applicants with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40.0 or higher, the practitioner shall require that the applicant demonstrate the ability to meet the guidelines.
Just down the page a bit, they provide a weblink to find out more about BMI. Well, I've done all the work for you. Just click here, enter your height and weight, and you can find out if your BMI is over 40.

Now, based on how many XXL and even XXXL shirts I helped Fiona sell at this year's C-PORT convention, I'm guessing there is a percentage of RedRightReturning readers who may tilt the BMI index a tad over that 40.0 benchmark. My personal BMI is about 34.

A BMI over 40 will not automatically disqualify you for service, but it will require your doctor to attest that you can climb ladders, crawl into small spaces, carry heavy fire hoses, that sort of thing. And, it will probably raise some flags when your application is reviewed by the examiner. A few too many doughnuts and next thing you know, they're checking for a history of dermatomyositis.

The list of ailments and medical conditions that could be an issue is so extensive, there is a 9 page alphabetical index [enclosure 3a] just to help you quickly figure out if your nerphrois is on the list (it is, condition #105). Ever had prostate cancer? That's condition #108. Ever had headaches? #162.

If you're really interested, see enclosure #3, which is only 32 pages long, and details 201 medical conditions (referenced in the index mentioned above), and the recommended steps for medical evaluation. If you had your cancerous prostate removed, is your bladder "competent"? There is enough stuff on this list, your entire family can play!

This whole thing is becoming more like the physical requirements that commercial jet pilots have to sustain to keep flying. My flight instructor now flys big jets for UPS, and you bet he has to keep in shape. Of course, he's making about one hundred Gs per year, so he can afford the Gold's Gym membership dues....whats in your wallet?