· Told from a Flight Attendant’s perspective ·
Names and details are omitted for confidentially purposes

It was a seemingly normal workday, as it always is. We had set off on the last leg of our trip, and were only an hour away from landing. I had just finished the first class service, when I received a call from the back of the aircraft:

“We have a medical emergency – a passenger just collapsed and is unconscious.”

Immediately I called the cockpit to inform them of the situation. I would call back with details and updates as they came. I then made a PA to the passengers on board:

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a licensed medical professional please make yourself known by pressing the flight attendant call button.”

Three call lights instantly came on, and I ushered them to the back of the aircraft. The flight attendants had pulled out the medical equipment, including an AED. Already two doctors had responded to the scene, and collectively they deciphered who was to continue care. The others returned to their seats.

While the other flight attendants and doctor continued to treat the passenger, I kept the cockpit updated and filled out paperwork. Eventually the passenger stabilized and sat down next to the primary doctor. The flight attendants ensured the passenger was comfortable, and then gave me all the information about the situation.

With a final call to the cockpit, I provided the passenger’s name, seat number, current condition and doctor’s recommendation not to divert. The Captain declared medical emergency, which allowed us to fly faster and land first. I made another PA to the passengers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, as you know we have had an medical emergency on board. When we reach the gate, please remain seated until paramedics can escort this passenger to medical assistance. We thank you for your cooperation.”

The last few minutes of the flight sped by, and before I knew it the boarding door was opened. About 10 people (paramedics, police officers and airline staff) immediately came onto the aircraft. I gave them paperwork and the passenger was taken down to an ambulance waiting on the tarmac. Once they were gone, everyone proceeded out as normal. After a quick debrief with the flight crew, we reported what had happened and all went our separate ways.

Having something unexpected occur while flying can be unnerving. I share this story broadly to emphasize what can be expected, and further alleviate any anxiety. A few things I want you to take away:

1. The flight crew is primarily there for your safety and security.

It may look like we’re there just to serve drinks, but that doesn’t skim the surface of our responsibility to you. Flight Attendants are primarily safety and security professionals. We test the emergency equipment every flight, and ensure everyone is secure before shutting the cabin door. The majority of our training is focused on responding to all situations, ranging from nausea to a potential hijacking. We are well equipped to assist you no matter what.


2. There plenty of resources to care for any situation on board.

In this story, I talked about the use of medical equipment and licensed medical professionals. Your Flight Attendants have also been trained to care for passengers, and even have access to that knowledge in their manual. In some cases, the cockpit can also call for medical assistance from the ground. While every flight I’ve come in contact with has had several medical professionals, they are not the only dependable resource available.


3. You are in good hands.

Your wellbeing is absolutely most important. It may be stressful to fly because of these potential situations, but every flight is well equipped with the people and tools necessary. We want things to run smoothly, but are ready to jump into action the second they don’t. I hope that by sharing my experience you have a better understanding of how these emergencies are handled onboard. Further, I hope you feel confident with your next flight crew, because delivering passengers safely and securely is what we do best.