As NATCA reported last week, an air traffic controller forced to work alone due to extreme understaffing in the radar facility that handles airborne traffic around Reno-Tahoe International Airport was incapacitated while on duty June 23 as he suffered chest pains.
At approximately 5:40 p.m. PDT, the controller called his colleagues in the control tower about his condition and they raced into action to call paramedics and take measures to ensure the safety of the flights that were under the ill employee’s control. Normally, at that time, there are approximately six to 10 aircraft in this airspace.
Normal staffing for this shift in the radar room is three controllers, or two controllers plus one supervisor. But on this day, as has been the case repeatedly since last fall, only one controller was working.
We now have an audio recording of the incident and you can listen to a version here, which has been edited to remove the periods of silence between transmissions:
On the recording, you will hear the controller as he struggles to complete an instruction for a pilot. Then a couple of pilots inquire as to his condition, followed by the tower controllers referencing the incident and taking over control of the airspace.
To read NATCA's press release from last week, please go here.
Here is the actual audio of the event. Events start about 14 minutes into the recording.
14min 27sec radar controller sounds to be short of breath
15min 46sec radar controller sounds to be in pain
16min 12sec radar controller in severe pain
16min 14sec radar controller in tears
17min 20sec local control takes over radar frequencies
20min 57sec Paramedics on freq at the back of the tower?
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RCoulter From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 556 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2284 times:
Doesn't suprise me it was only the one guy, he is the only one I always seem to hear no matter what time of day. The only positive was that this happened at RNO, I would hate to have seen what would happen if it was a much busier airport.
UA772IAD From Australia, joined Jul 2004, 1746 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2169 times:
Luckily help was nearby. Hope he makes a speedy recovery...
Quoting RCoulter (Reply 1): Doesn't suprise me it was only the one guy, he is the only one I always seem to hear no matter what time of day. The only positive was that this happened at RNO, I would hate to have seen what would happen if it was a much busier airport.
Not much since a busier airport would have more than one staffed on the roster for a PM 'rush hour' shift.