US Navy – Have the guts to do what’s required to succeed. What’s wrong with us?

09/03/2012

As part of their duties, the US Navy and US Marines Senior Officers regularly put those under their command in harms way. They do this as a matter of routine.

Yet they routinely minimize risk – where they see it – and can do something about it!

In short they value life! Can we say the same Australia’s Civilian “Commanders” in jurisdictions such as the city councils of Australia’s Capital Cities and Australia’s State Government Premiers?

Can we say the same for the Governments of the UK and others?

Can we say the same for the leadership of Australia’s Defence Force (ADF)?

USS Virginia

US Nuke Subs have Missiles, Super Computers, Torpedoes and now Breathalyzers!

The US Navy and Marines have evaluated various solutions and found what we discovered decades ago. The most effective behaviour changing process you can invent to beat the scourge of binge drinking-alcohol fueled violence and pedestrian deaths is via Random Breath Testing (BAC Testing).

From the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, first printed on 6th March,  2012, headed Navy, Marines to Start Random Alcohol Tests, by Nathan Hodge, I present these quotes:

The Navy and Marines said Monday they plan to introduce random breath tests of personnel on duty as part of a broader health-and-safety push…

And:

The U.S. military already randomly tests members of all branches for illegal drug use. But resorting to breath tests—which detect blood alcohol levels from a breath sample—represents a first for military personnel.

And:

Some Navy crew members, for instance, will have to take a breath test when reporting aboard a ship for duty and other sailors will be subjected to random inspections.

And as part of their prior testing of RBT methods:

The Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific has already experimented with a pilot breath-test program that began in 2009. Officials say that program led to a 45% decrease in alcohol-related incidents, such as arrests for driving [cars!] under the influence.

US Nuke Sub Torpedo Room

US Nuclear Submarine Torpedo Room. Every finger on every button belongs to a sober, drug free serviceman or woman.

We have no immediate feedback on how many Submarine to Submarine collisions were avoided…

Note, in Australia we have a long history of proving the targeted effectiveness of RBT via our motorist targeted Point 05 Campaign which has saved hundreds of lives in the process.

Confusingly, a recent Defense Force Inquiry found that

alcohol use is common among ADF personnel and … there is also a high prevalence of drinking at hazardous levels. …this situation has existed in the ADF for a
considerable time, despite some commendable efforts to comprehensively address it over the years.”

Comment: Commendable Efforts don’t cut it. People, including civilians are regularly dying whilst these “Commendable Efforters” fail to hit a cultural change target.
(Just ask family and friends of victims of HMAS Cerberus – a major cultural trend setter training base in Victoria, Australia.
And:

26.4% of ADF members report consuming alcohol at hazardous or harmful
levels. …risky drinking in the ADF is an important contributor to
alcohol related harm

Comment, a quick read proves where the major attention of the defence force chiefs will be drawn:

…an analysis of the volume of negative television, radio and press
coverage of the ADF and its personnel in relation to alcohol found that in 2010–2011 there
were 2,666 such reports, which reached a cumulative potential audience of 81,159,239 and
had an advertising space rate of $4,445,812. This was a 347% increase from 2009–2010

And paid spin doctors, get typing on your response to a likely Tender:

Any explicit communication strategy can be readily undermined by adverse counter messages
and in this context the Panel advises the ADF to develop an organisation-wide policy on
alcohol industry sponsorship and promotion of ADF people, units, and events that has a
specific intent of reducing alcohol related harm

Comment: ADF personel could use their common sense, review what The US Navy submariners have found, and do what they do, and add more measures.
(ADF: No charge for that advice…)

Meanwhile, in a tale of how hard it is to put across a message of so-called “safe” alcohol consumption,  Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s new guidelines are known by only 5% of respondents (source: research conducted by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research)

Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Note that the “safe” is a relative term. The World Health Organisation long ago found there was no known safe level of drinking.
(Remember that alcohol is toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic and addictive. It cannot ever be absolutely safe for all users at any recommended level.)

Study author Michael Livingston should consider the idea of adapting Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) findings and translate the size and type of drink recommendations to BAC Levels – Over Time.

The Pedestrian 08 policy includes the mandatory installation of BAC Testing machines (breathalysers), at a set ratio to the number of clients in the venue, so that any alcohol user will have immediate access to a testing machine. Saving yet more motorists from unintentional drunk driving (BAC 0.05) and for “drink-walking” (BAC 0.08). Providing an extra lines of defense for motorists via self-initiated, in venue BAC testing; Police initiated Pedestrian RBT (P-RBT) – picking up those who, with an affected judgement, intend to drive; as well as picking up those offending against new P-RBT limits.

It would be a minor matter of programming to enable the user’s test sample and time entered to give the user instant feedback on how the users current BAC Level fits into the NHMRC guidelines – via the audio-visual capabilities of BAC Testing machines.

An example expression given in both written (Multi-languages) and with an accompanying spoken word may include: “You have a BAC of naught point O 8. You are over this jurisdictions Pedestrian BAC limit. For your own safety and to avoid being fined, please remain in your licensed Liquor Venue for at least another 20 mins. Let your friendly bar staff know. Please re-check your BAC level prior to leaving. Your BAC level indicates an intake well in excess of National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines. Try and avoid any more alcohol intake for 2-3 days. [a short blurb to state the modified, BAC/Time variant of NHMRC guidelines to follow].”*

* It would be good to get feedback on this idea. It gives you an idea of the potential for in venue BAC testing, how a stated BAC law will provoke (in fact guarantee) a general user awareness of their BAC level at all times whilst engaged in use of alcohol. The same Breathalysers / Breathalyzers can serve an educative role for broad liquor consumption guidelines and give specific feedback on where the user’s breath test fit’s them into the practice of the same guidelines.


Big Liquor – killing 2.5 million people per annum

16/02/2011

The wrist wringing, the grasping for ineffective, impotent, half-hearted measures by our polling addicted politicians has to end.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that alcohol is killing 2.5 million people per year.

Too few countries use effective policy options to prevent death, disease and injury from alcohol use.

- World Health Organisation

Millions more are harmed or injured.

These deaths, these injuries and harms are occurring every year.

World Health Organisation Report

In Big Liquor’s nirvana, the Russian Federation, 1 in 5 deaths are due to alcohol.

Media identities who insist on not aggressively pursuing Liquor companies, politicians and political parties who continuously champion deflecting, ineffective measures and continuously ignore the short list of policies known to be effective ought to hang their heads in shame.

This is a world wide challenge eclipsing AIDS and tuberculosis.

Alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for disease burden; it is the leading risk factor in the Western Pacific and the Americas and the second largest in Europe.

It is against your national interest to permit:

  1. The advertising or promotion of alcohol
  2. Sporting sponsorship by Big Liquor
  3. Extended trading hours
  4. Ubiquitous availability of liquor licences
  5. Minimum drinking ages below the age of 21
  6. Not having a set maximum, on street BAC level for pedestrians – especially in built up areas.
  7. The bribing/fund-raising for politicians and media by Big Liquor

There is a world of difference between prohibition of a drug of addiction and allowing the rampant promotion, advertising and sponsorship by the corporate producers of this toxic, cancer causing drug.

Controlling alcohol is not, nor has it ever been confused with, prohibition.

Any self respecting government should pull out all policy options to minimise the consumption of alcohol and therefore minimise the harms of alcohol.

As the World Health Organisation states:

no [amount of] drinking is entirely safe.

- Shekhar Saxena, the director of WHO’s mental health and substance abuse department

Links:

The WHO report.

The Economist Article

Rasta Livewire


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