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wiss
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Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:15 pm

Good evening everybody.

I have been following the discussions on this forum literally for years, and now I decided to take a further step and join the discussions.

My first post is a question. I have a disability, which is Congenital Muscular Distrophy (abbreviated as CMD usually). In very simple terms the problem is that I have little force on the muscles, so I need help from other people to do lots of things and I need to use a wheelchair to move around. But mentally and cognitively I have no problems at all.

I travel by plane an average or 2-3 times a year, and after being an aviation enthusiast since I was a little kid, now I have knowledge of many planes after studying manuals and such, and also flying with FSX on my computer.

Last week I was flying SCL-CCP and back to attend a physics symposium. My flight was done with LA in one of their A320. And when I was at my seat, right before closing the doors, the purser comes to me and my parents (who were traveling with me) and gave me some safety indications like where the exits were located, etc. And then he asked how would we do in case of an evacuation with slides. We responded that my parents would help me. But later during the flight I was left wondering, how people with disabilities like mine (or any other) could do in case of an evacuation?

After all the flights I have done, this is the very first time I have asked myself about this situation hahaha

In my particular case, I couldn't slide down because when reaching the ground I won't be able to stand up and probably I will end with some broken bones.

Has anybody working in an airline had a situation like this?

Regards

[Edited 2014-12-01 12:17:01]

[Edited 2014-12-01 12:20:32]

[Edited 2014-12-01 12:21:38]
 
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MD80
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:23 pm

I know that at some airlines the cabin-crews are trained to assist disabled passengers and the crew is aware of the number of passengers who could be in need of help in case of emergency. IIRC, the total number of disabled passengers on a flight is restricted in the interest of safety. Your mentioned flight attendant was aware of you and so was the entire cabin crew.

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
In my particular case, I couldn't slide down because when reaching the ground I won't be able to stand up and probably I will end with some broken bones.

IMO the most important aspect is that you are no longer in the cabin and other people would take you away from the plane. Injuries (even a broken bone) are probably a "compromise" if you know what I mean.

Maybe other could answer quickly and better. I can also ask a purser of Lufthansa but I will meet him during next week only.
 
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flyingturtle
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:17 pm

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
which is Congenital Muscular Distrophy (abbreviated as CMD usually)

I've helped organize a summer holiday for children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy years ago. It was a great experience.


One important thing is having a plan. I travel with a blind, frail, over 80 years old woman from time to time - albeit on trains. We always exist the railway car last so don't have to hurry. If I lose my nerves she will lose hers even more quickly. This is compounded by her forgetfulness. The thinks the steps are quite near, and is afraid of walking forward until she actually reaches the steps at the exit.

So... having a plan is good.

If you travel with your parents, you could agree that one of your parents will use the slide after you - so the person slamming into you is at least aware of your disability. You could ask the F/As what their plan is. Your parents could also shout to other passengers: "Go, go, go, we'll take care of our son, go, go!". My experience is that many people actually stop to care about me and the old woman, while I prefer an empty exit area.


David
 
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MD80
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:32 am

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
I have been following the discussions on this forum literally for years, and now I decided to take a further step and join the discussions.

Haven´t seen it! Welcome!  
Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 2):
I've helped organize a summer holiday for children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy years ago. It was a great experience.

I can imagine that this was a great experience. It´s different compared to CMD but I am trained volunteer in a Children's Hospice and have the honor to attend a child and his parents and all I can say is that the experiences are priceless.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 2):
One important thing is having a plan.

Fully agree! It´s very important to have a plan and a "plan B" in case of sudden changes. I strongly believe that cabin-crews of professional airlines are trained exactly this way. I know for myself that I have to ensure that I have undertaken all measures to ensure that all is fine. This is also important for the attended child. The child feels this and is fine. It also gives me the chance to focus the child of what the child can do and not what the child can no longer do.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 2):
If you travel with your parents, you could agree that one of your parents will use the slide after you - so the person slamming into you is at least aware of your disability. You could ask the F/As what their plan is. Your parents could also shout to other passengers: "Go, go, go, we'll take care of our son, go, go!".

Very good idea!

I do own a flight attendant manual of a big US-airline with a section about disabled passengers. The main focus is more of daily dealing with such passengers in a comfortable and good way. It´s the way of approaching a passenger in a wheel-chair, when to touch, how to touch, how to ask, always to keep in mind that a blind person is able to see in his/her own way. I can´t remember the section about evacuation and dealing with disabled passengers.

Hopefully, some other members can shed a light into this!
 
thegoldenargosy
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:13 am

When I was a FA we were trained to give disabled passengers a "RAT" briefing during boarding. Route of exit, ask how I could help them move, and we told them that'd we come for them. Disabled passengers were only to be helped once we had evacuated everyone else.
 
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Siren
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:21 am

I'm a paraplegic - and I've always assumed that if the plane crashes or an emergency evacuation is needed, that I'm pretty much dead. I'd have no chance of getting to an exit on my own, unassisted. I can't move my legs, so, I'm anchored to my seat whether or not I want to be, and not moving anywhere without somebody carrying me, or a set of wheels underneath me...

Sure, the crew would know this when I'm aboard the plane, but in the bigger picture, if a genuine emergency occurs, I know that I'm significantly less likely to survive if an emergency evacuation is required. C'est la vie.
 
AR385
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:25 am

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
But later during the flight I was left wondering, how people with disabilities like mine (or any other) could do in case of an evacuation?

I hope my response does not offend you.

The AF A320 that crashed at the Habsheim airfield had two fatalities I believe. One was a disabled teenager who was not able to move, and the other an adult woman, not related to the girl that tried to assist her.

I once evacuated a 727, full of people that rejected take off at V1 due to engine no. 2 disintegrating. The flight was MTY-CUN. The plane stopped in the runway and rapidly filled with smoke. When the Captain came over the loudspeakers and said to evacuate, the pandemonium was something I had never seen.

I am 1.87mts tall and weigh 110kgs. Fit. At least back then. I was in a window seat and could not get out. I had to start kicking and elbowing people very hard just to reach the aisle. I´m sure I broke a couple of noses. I was 7 rows from L1 door.

I would suggest you always seat near an emergency exit, never on a window seat but on the aisle, and be very clear to the crew and to whomever accompanies you about your needs in an evac.
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:56 am

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
how people with disabilities like mine (or any other) could do in case of an evacuation?

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (14CFR382), a customer with a disability may be asked if they are able to facilitate or at least aid in their own evacuation from the aircraft in an emergency.

If the customer is traveling alone and says they'll require someone to aid in their evacuation, they must provide their own attendant at their own expense before they will be permitted to travel.

If the customer says they do not require an attendant, the airline will provide one at no cost if the airline disagrees with the customer's assessment and feels an attendant is warranted to aid in that customer's evacuation in an emergency.

Here's the thing; the term "attendant" can mean any person of the airline's choosing, and their sole duty will be to aid in the customer's evacuation from the aircraft in an emergency. The airline can ask non-revs if they're willing to assist, deadheading crew, send a gate agent or other station employee as an attendant, call upon other customers, etc.

Contrary to what some people have been led to believe over the years, it doesn't have to be someone the customer wants to travel with them. Sadly, there are still instances where some ill-informed people would call airline reservations offices or show up at the airport, saying they were disabled and that the airline was obligated by law to provide free tickets for their (friend, spouse, etc) to travel with them.

Quoting MD80 (Reply 1):
I know that at some airlines the cabin-crews are trained to assist disabled passengers

Yes, once they have completed their duties in facilitating the evacuation of the aircraft. The crew is there to aid everyone, and cannot be tasked with the responsibility of aiding just one, two, or three specific individuals only.

[Edited 2014-12-01 22:15:13]
 
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northwestEWR
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:09 am

I'll also add: Please don't be offended by my reply. I do not intend it as such.

Quoting thegoldenargosy (Reply 4):
Disabled passengers were only to be helped once we had evacuated everyone else.

That seems blunt. But having had to work several aisle-chair boardings (near fully physically disabled) I asked myself the same question--and arrived at the above conclusion.

Both of those times, the passengers were elderly and the "attendant" was their spouse and while they were mobile, they would have been of little help to anyone else in an emergency, especially someone with any disability. Picture: frail granny trying to help a full sized man move around in a tight aircraft cabin in good conditions much less in a smoky rescue scene.

To our crews on the forum--has this situation ever occurred to you and if so, what did you do? (Probably not full emergency but related)
 
silentbob
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:35 am

Quoting northwestEWR (Reply 8):
To our crews on the forum--has this situation ever occurred to you and if so, what did you do? (Probably not full emergency but related)

With most of our wheelchair-bound passengers, I just figure that I'll tell them we're in Vegas or West Palm. That seems to cure people on a regular basis.
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:33 pm

Most airlines teach crews to use the "blanket drag" method to get people off who cannot walk. The disabled passenger merely lays down on the blanket on the floor and two attendants or passengers drag them to the closest exit and onto the slide. Either those two crew members or two passengers are designated to drag the person away from the aircraft.
 
bmibaby737
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:08 pm

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
I have been following the discussions on this forum literally for years, and now I decided to take a further step and join the discussions.

Welcome to the forum, and an interesting topic to have as your first!

Quoting MD80 (Reply 1):
I know that at some airlines the cabin-crews are trained to assist disabled passengers and the crew is aware of the number of passengers who could be in need of help in case of emergency. IIRC, the total number of disabled passengers on a flight is restricted in the interest of safety. Your mentioned flight attendant was aware of you and so was the entire cabin crew.

MD80 is correct; upon closing doors for departure, the senior crew member will confirm with ground staff how many adults, babies and 'special assistance' passengers are on board. Senior crew member will also acknowledge the same with the captain and other cabin crew prior to the flight deck door locking for departure. All crew on board will know you're on board, and what you require, and ground staff both at your departing airport and arrival airport will be aware as well.

In a planned evacuation, the crew would possibly assign ABPs to help you when the aircraft was evacuated, just like they would also do for their emergency exits should they themselves become incapacitated on landing. FYI - The Intentional Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines ABPs (Able-bodied Passengers) as "passengers selected by crew members to assist in managing emergency situations if and as required"

I'm sure no matter what airline you flew, the crew would assist you as much as they possibly could in any of the ways listed above by other users. However, should the cabin crew exhaust all possibilities and still not be able to assistance said assistance passengers in an evacuation, last resort, after evacuating the aircraft themselves, the cabin crew would tell the attending fire fighting service the number of passengers remaining on board, where they are and any brief description that would aid the fire fighters. Cabin crew are trained to help, but at the end of the day, are told not to be heroes and to evacuate themselves before it's 'too late'.

Quoting wiss (Thread starter):
In my particular case, I couldn't slide down because when reaching the ground I won't be able to stand up and probably I will end with some broken bones.

Without intending to offend, if you were physically able to evacuate and your life was in danger should you remain on the aircraft, then I'm sure you'd have no hesitation jumping off of that aircraft no matter what injuries you'd sustain. A few broken bones is a small price to pay for your life.

Quoting AR385 (Reply 6):
The AF A320 that crashed at the Habsheim airfield had two fatalities I believe. One was a disabled teenager who was not able to move, and the other an adult woman, not related to the girl that tried to assist her.

That's truly a sad situation. I hadn't heard of this until looking it up just now
 
YYCSpotter
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:05 pm

This also begs another question, although It may have been discussed in previous threads;

If an individual is at a weight where their size causes mobility issues, which could negatively affect the efficient and rapid evacuation of the aircraft, be given similar treatment to those who have disabilities in the event of a crash?

I would just like to confirm that I am not intending to insult anyone who may be of larger size, it is simply genuine curiosity.
 
n729pa
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:21 pm

A story linked to the subject that not everyone may know, but shows the bravery of the member of crew, who was and is the only woman to have received the George Cross in peacetime for her actions.

I won't go over the whole story, but the basis story is given here....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BOAC_Flight_712

On 8 April 1968, BOAC Flight 712 left Heathrow Airport, bound indirectly for Sydney. Soon after take-off, the Boeing 707's number two engine caught fire and fell from the plane's port wing. The aircraft managed to land two-and-a-half minutes later, but fire continued to engulf the wing and spread to the fuselage. Harrison and a steward inflated the escape chute at the aft of the plane but it became entangled and the steward had to climb down to free it for use and was unable to return.

Harrison stayed at her station and helped passengers to escape as fire consumed the plane, encouraging them to jump and in some cases simply pushing them out to safety. As the fire spread, escape from the rear of the aircraft became impossible and she led the remaining passengers to another exit. She refused to leave the plane to save herself and her body was found near that of a disabled wheelchair bound pensioner, seated in one of the last rows.
 
wiss
Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2007 6:44 pm

RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:44 pm

Quoting MD80 (Reply 1):
Quoting bmibaby737 (Reply 11):

Yeah, sorry, I meant I could't slide down safely. Even the sliding itself could be a life threatening situation to me. But overally thinking, yes, is a good compromise to have some broken bones and some other risks in exchange of being off the plane.

Quoting AR385 (Reply 6):

No offense taken  
Quoting AR385 (Reply 6):

Wow, I have watched lots of documentaries about that AF crash and I never knew that story. Thats pretty sad.

I was discussing this with my parents and my father who is a tall and strong guy said he would slide with me in a situation like this. And probably my mom will slide first to clear the area below. If my brother is traveling with us (he is also a very tall and strong guy) probably he would help my dad in taking me to the exit. Of course it won't be easy, but at that specific moment it will be probably the safest (or less dangerous) option. I hope I never need to execute that plan.

I know some captains of Chile's main airlines LA and H2. I will ask them about the specific procedures on their airlines regarding this.

Thanks for all your replies and welcomes  
 
N353SK
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:27 pm

Quoting silentbob (Reply 9):
With most of our wheelchair-bound passengers, I just figure that I'll tell them we're in Vegas or West Palm. That seems to cure people on a regular basis.

LOL! Or tell them that they'll be getting a ride in a real wheelchair and not a golf cart.
 
skyhigh
Posts: 124
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RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:19 am

Hi,

I'm quadriplegic and travel often on a whole range of Airlines from Cathay and Qantas through Syrian Air, Cubana and Air Bagan. I always travel with my partner, who also acts as my carer. With his help I can easily transfer from the aisle chair to the airplane seat.

Generally a flight attendant will then introduce themselves and speak to you directly about the safely and emergency procedures, like they did on your Lan flight. The process varies slightly in different countries but the one thing they agree on is that if you require any help, you're going to be last off the plane. I like everyone else on the plane just hope that it doesn't crash!

Bearing this in mind, most but not all airlines will seat you at the front of the plane, close to the exit. This also saves time when boarding you as it saves the crew from having to navigate the aisle chair any further than they have to. Having said that I have been sat in the last row of some planes, including a 747.
They won't sit you in an emergency exit row itself for two reasons. Firstly, the people who are seated in emergency rows may be required to open the door during an emergency. Also, those seats need to be vacated as quickly as possible to create a clearway and ensure that other passengers can exit the plane as quickly as possible.

If you have any further questions feel free to PM me.
 
YLWbased
Posts: 905
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:09 pm

RE: Having A Disability And Evacuating A Plane

Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:42 am

I once flew on the Donair 228 doing MPH(Caticlan) - USU(Busauanga/Coron) with "I cannot remember what it was called airlines". There was 1 pax on wheelchair on our flight, and I recall the captain coming out and give that pax a single page document to sign.

This gentlemen happened to seat next to me and I asked politely what that was all about. He told me that since the 228 doesn't have an FA, in the case of an emergency, the flight crew can only assist him at "Best possible effort" and the airline shall not be held responsible for his personal safety should there be an Emergency onboard; that document was basically an waiver for the airlines to protest his life during an emergency.

YLWbased

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