Emirates diverts over 60 flights last year for medical emergencies
A Monitor Report 12 Feb, 2017  |
: Emirates Airline handled more than 60 flight diversions due to medical emergencies during 2916. During the period the airline operated more than 194,000 flights.
A single flight diversion can cost Emirates anything from US$50,000 to over US$600,000, depending on the nature of the diversion which include fuel, flight catering, landing and ground handling fees, air navigation cost, passenger rebooking costs and onward connection, as well as other associated costs to care for crew and passengers.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said: “We can never hope to recover the costs of a flight diversion, but the wellbeing of our customers is always our number one priority. Airlines handle medical emergencies differently, as there are no international regulations on this front. At Emirates, like everything else we do, the safety of our passengers comes first. If there is a medical emergency on board, our crew have the training and equipment to help them assess the situation, and deliver the best possible outcome for the affected passengers.”
“If we have to divert a flight, our aim is to get medical attention for the afflicted passenger as soon as possible. Via our medical advisory consultants and Emirates’ own operations control team, we identify the best location where the passenger may receive appropriate care, and where the airport can adequately support the passengers and aircraft.
In 2016, Emirates delivered nearly 23,000 hours of medical training for cabin crew and pilots, ensuring they are ready to assist passengers on board .All Emirates cabin crew go through a comprehensive initial training programme which is required by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, recurrent training to keep their skills up to date, as well as additional specific training for the use of on board medical equipment.
The medical training that Emirates cabin crew undertake includes both theory and practical aspects. It prepares them to recognise and deal with common situations, but more importantly handle rare but life-threatening events when time is of essence.
Topics covered include basic life support (CPR); medical conditions including asthma, heart disorders, seizures and allergic reactions; trauma related topics and even emergency childbirth amongst others. Pilots also attend training sessions covering topics such as Hypoxia, Malaria, Dengue, Trauma, CPR and choking and occupational health issues.
Emirates has also invested more than US$ 7 million in the installation of its medical equipment on board, with annual maintenance costs being a further US$ 1.7 million. Equipment on every Emirates aircraft include: emergency medical kits, oxygen bottles, resuscitators, a defibrillator, a telemedicine unit, and a 24/7, satellite medical advisory service that connects crew to specialist aviation medical consultants who can help assess the passenger’s situation in real time.
On average, Emirates’ crew make about 20 calls to the medical advisory service per 100,000 passengers flown. Most calls do not result in a diversion, but the professional consultation helps the operating crew to make better decisions and offer the right support to the affected passengers, particularly when there are no volunteer medical professionals on the flight.