Emergency Safety Instructions. Photo credit: Jim.

Emergency Safety Instructions. Photo credit: Jim.

Flight attendants are expected to project the image of safety on a flight. They do so by appearing being “cool, calm and collected”.

Because when anything happens on a flight, it’s truly the flight attendants who are in control. Sure, the pilots are flying the aircraft but the pilots don’t have a rear view mirror.

This begs the question – who’s really in control during a flight? Flight attendants are, of course!

How are flight attendants able to stay in control?

Through extensive training by the airline, flight attendants are given the skills they need to handle the most high-intensity, stressful situations encountered during a flight – and we’re not just talking about a little turbulence.

Flight attendants are coached, drilled and tested first-hand by instructors using disturbingly real mock scenarios as part of the airline’s advanced training facilities. Some drills as part of their training include dark, smoke-filled cabins and nighttime water landings in the rain.

What are typical in-flight emergencies?

In-flight fire, equipment malfunction and security threats rate highly amongst the emergencies that receive the most attention in the media – but most in-flight the most common are medical emergencies, with many passenger flights being redirected due to medical emergencies.

Beyond your typical emergencies, flight attendants are also required to manage armed or hostile passengers, armed guards or policemen escorting prisoners or deportees.

What do Flight Attendants do in an emergency?

In addition to being cool, calm and collected – flight attendants must also command respect of the passengers to maintain control over every situation onboard the airplane.

Flight attendants must be certified in CPR, including the use of an Automated External Defibrillator, every 2 years.

The typical duties include:

  • Making announcements to passengers and other crew members
  • Instructing passengers and other crew members
  • Controlling the movement of passengers within the airplane
  • Commanding passengers to complete particular tasks
  • Evacuating passengers from the plane, upwards of 800 passengers in 72 seconds on some aircraft
  • Deploying the raft, detaching and paddling away from debris after ditching.
  • Applying first-aid to other cabin crew and passengers:
  • Extinguishing fires, and disabling malfunction electrical equipment

Flight attendants must also know where each piece of emergency and medical equipment is located on each type of aircraft, plus be able to properly operate the equipment.

Some common emergency equipment includes:

First Aid Kit. Photo credit: Darraghkelly.

First Aid Kit. Photo credit: Darraghkelly.

  • Automatic External Defibrillators (AED – see this Wikipedia article)
  • Enhanced emergency medical kits for first aid
  • Oxygen masks
  • Halon fire extinguishers
  • Solid-state oxygen units
  • Life rafts and life preservers, or life jackets
  • Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)
  • Cold weather survival gear
  • And more…

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of stuff we have to know. Look at the size of the manual. We have to know this stuff. And we get updates, revisions and bulletins every few weeks when stuff changes. So in actuality, we’re retraining all of the time. – Patricia Sund for Huffington Post