29 AUGUST 2001

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Emirates crew honoured for saving life in mid-air drama

Emirates Airline has made a special presentation to two members of its cabin crew for saving the life of a passenger who had a heart attack on board a flight to Nairobi.

The incident occurred on board flight EK421 Dubai to Nairobi on July 1, 2001 when a 60-year-old passenger complained of heartburn and began vomiting two hours into the flight.

Dr Alasdair Beatton, Head of Medical Services, presented Cabin Service Director Diaa Hossny Ahmed Farrag and cabin crew member Tracey Leanne Carlton with special, heart-shaped badges in recognition of their efforts.

Dr Beatton told them, "Wear your badges with pride. You deserve them. Someone is walking around, alive, today because of your skill." He also showed them a print-out from the defibrillator, showing the ventricular fibrillation, the shock which was administered and the heart’s subsequent return to regularity

Dubai-based Dr Neil Livingston, responded to the call for a doctor and examined the passenger, who was thought to be suffering from indigestion. He gave some treatment. A short time later, the passenger collapsed. Tracey, recognising a heart attack, called for the defibrillator, carried on board every Emirates aircraft, to be brought while she and Dr Livingston applied CPR.

Diaa brought up the defibrillator and connected it to the passenger. It showed that a shock was indicated. A single shock was sufficient to kick start the heart into beating regularly. Diaa, who comes from Egypt, said, "I was amazed that such a small machine could administer such a powerful shock."

While other members of the crew looked after the passenger’s wife, Tracey stayed with the sick passenger and administered oxygen until the aircraft landed at Nairobi. Through a telephone call from the aircraft to MedLink, a medical emergency centre for airlines, a Nairobi hospital had been alerted and a doctor and ambulance were waiting at the airport.

Tracey, who comes from Brisbane, Australia, said, "By the time we landed, the passenger was well enough to tell me he knew what we had done and he thanked me. That brought tears to my eyes." She has since received a letter from the passenger’s wife saying that he is recovering well.

In 1998, Emirates became one of a handful of airlines to equip each aircraft with a Heartstream defibrillator. The same year, Emirates became the first airline in the Middle East to sign up with MedLink, an emergency telemedicine centre, based at a hospital in Phoenix, USA.

When medical emergencies occur in flight, cabin and flight crew can phone in to the MedLink emergency centre from anywhere in the world via satellite communications lines that are available on every Emirates aircraft.

Dr Beatton added that, to date, over 30 lives have been saved on international flights by airlines carrying a defibrillator. This latest incident is the second time that cabin crew have saved the life of an Emirates passenger.

Emirates Airline operates three weekly flights to Malta: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Flights from Malta to Dubai have a short stopover in Tripoli while the airline flies direct from Dubai to Malta.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt