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Yesterday, passengers on Continental Airlines Flight 1404, endured the unthinkable. According to reports, during take off from Denver the 737 impacted a ravine and caught fire. The passengers on the flight escaped with their lives, some with physical injuries, but likely all with some sort of emotional injury.

Surviving a plane crash is the first step. After a plane crash survivors experience the event replaying again and again in their minds. Often this is followed by periods of isolation, sleeplessness and depression. Jet crashes cause some of the highest levels of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (See J. Davidson, M.D. and Edna Foa, Ph. D., DSM-IV and Beyond). PTSD is treatable, passengers should seek medical help for this well known consequence of surviving a traumatic event.

As for the cause of the plane crash…at this point, who knows. There has been discussion of the wind speed at the time of take off. That is because, during take off and landing, every pilot must be aware of how the wind speed relates to the cross wind capabilities of the aircraft. The crosswind is the component of wind which is blowing 90 degrees to the runway making a take off or landing more difficult than if the wind were blowing straight down the runway towards the nose of the aircraft. Without knowing the direction and speed of the wind at the time of the crash, it would be premature to blame the crash on wind conditions.

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