Starting today, and continuing daily, I'm going to take some time to shine a light on the people affected by the #TrumpShutdown, and what it means for the rest of us.
Today, I want to talk about air traffic controllers (ATCs).
ATCs do more than route aircraft safely to their destination, though that is certainly a key part of the role they play in helping people arrive, safe and sound, at their destinations. They also direct vehicles on the ground—aircraft and ground workers alike.
ATCs are also responsible for directing safety crews, providing pilots with crucial information about conditions on the ground and in the air, and ensuring that each pilot leaving their operational range is properly handed off to another controller.
You'd think that radar and computer systems handle all the important bits. But you'd be wrong. It's humans looking out the window of a control tower—because tech is much less useful during takeoff and landing—that keep your plane from, say, smashing into a fuel truck.
ATCs have one of the most stressful jobs—and one of the most essential when it comes to the safety and of the 2.6 MILLION people that fly in and out of US airports EACH DAY. They're short-staffed, overworked, and they still keep millions of people alive, every day.
That burden (being responsible for so many lives) on the human psyche is unfathomable. Combine that with the fatigue that sets with all the extra hours that many ATCs work—a problem stemming from a lack of personnel—and you have a recipe for burnout. Or worse: disaster.
ATCs last received a paycheck on December 31. It's not known when they'll get their next one. Training for new (and needed!) ATCs is suspended during the #TrumpShutdown. Repairs of ground equipment may be delayed due to the shutdown as well, making their jobs even harder.
ATCs don't care about the wall, or politics, or roof dancing, or pithy tweets, or salty language.
They only care that millions of people each day survive their flights, and get to their destination quickly and safely.
The #TrumpShutdown puts that in jeopardy.