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Life-Saving BA Crew Hailed as Heroes in New York - but Willie Walsh Denies Them a Voice on Their Future

Dépèche transmise le 13 mars 2010 par PRNewswire

LONDON, March 13, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A skilled response to a medical emergency by British Airways cabin crew prevented a death at a New York airport 48 hours ago, Unite said today (Saturday).

According to the union, the crew's world-class training and dedication were demonstrated in full when a 42-year old man collapsed on the jetty as the plane stood in New York. Their swift reaction, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compression during a 30 minute battle to save his life, kept him alive while paramedics scrambled to the airport. The man is now recovering in intensive care. His panic-stricken loved ones and his employer have already thanked the crew for their efforts to save the man's life and the crew have been hailed by the New York police as "always the best".

Cabin crew have been locked in a bitter dispute with BA over their refusal to negotiate on restoring crew numbers on arduous flights, intensified by the airline's plans to use total novices as crew during the upcoming strikes, set to begin on March 20th.

Unite says that this latest incident is another graphic illustration - the second in two days - of why BA must stop undermining its cabin crew. Earlier this week, Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, warned that BA's plan to use untrained volunteers as crew during a strike was exceptionally high risk, underlined by the terrorism charges brought against a BA computer worker who had volunteered to act as strike breaking crew.

Yesterday BA, without warning, withdrew an offer of pay and working arrangements which Unite was set to put to the workforce and could have settled the year-long dispute.

Len McCluskey said that the heroic conduct of the crew in New York was no surprise to Unite: "Time and again we hear of how BA cabin crew pull out all the stops for those in their care.

"The lazy view that these men and women are "mindless militants" could not be further from the truth. Even in the face of vicious intimidation from their company, as today's example shows, they remain dedicated, caring and exceptionally skilled professionals who feel passionately about BA and about defending what it stands for - world class care for passengers. It is also a further reminder of the dangerous folly of using untrained strike-breakers to crew planes.

"BA's managers must pause and think hard about what they risk losing if they continue with this needless war against its own workforce. Once again, I urge Mr Walsh to put yesterday's offer back on the table. Allow your workers a voice. Trust them to make the correct decision on their futures and bring stability back to this airline."

The 11 crew members were working the third leg of a back-to-back i.e. three transatlantic flights in four days. Although the crew members working on the flight fear retribution by BA - which has already suspended 37 crew during the dispute, some on a very trivial basis - if they speak out, one has come forward to tell the story of the emergency:

"We landed in New York and most of the passengers had disembarked. I was standing in the first galley when I saw a crew member run off and I heard a shout for oxygen. I suspected it was a medical emergency so told my colleague to guard my bags I was going to help but could be a while.

"I ran on to the jetty and I saw a male lying on the floor and a passenger had started chest compressions. The crew had ran back on board to get the defibulator (defib), the medical kit resuscitation equipment and oxygen. I took his airway but could not start mouth to mouth straight away as his mouth was clamped shut. I could not open it so it would be ineffective until equipment arrived. I agreed the 30 to 2 ratio with the passenger and lifted the chin to keep the airway open.

"As soon as crew arrived with all the equipment they took over the chest compressions, applied the defib and we did full CPR with the ambu mask. The defib advised no shock but to continue with CPR. I continued mouth to mouth for the duration and the crew rotated with the chest compressions as it was exhausting as we worked for over half an hour doing CPR. At times we did manage to get a faint pulse and he breathed on his own but then stopped. and defib advised to continue CPR.

"It was 40 minutes before the paramedics arrived. The police and ground staff watched us and stated after wards how professional, calm and amazing we all were.

"All the crew were fantastic a real team effort. By the time the ambulance arrived he was breathing and had a good pulse although still unconscious.

"The New York police and paramedics who had seen us work said that we had done a brilliant job and said BA cabin crew are always the best. By the time we were walking through immigration one of our ground staff ran up to us with her phone as the company he worked for had heard what had happened and wanted to personally thank us which she did on the phone.

"When we got to the hotel the hotel staff had heard and said "You guys are simply the best". We were told last night from the hospital that he was stable and they made it clear we had saved his life.

"I have no doubt that every single BA cabin crew member could and would do exactly the same as we did last night. We are awaiting updates on his condition so we pray he is still OK."

The crew member said that when the crew turned up for the next leg of the trip:

"We were given a very warm welcome by the ground staff at airport. They stood in line and gave us a round of applause and took our photos. They said they were proud of BA because of us. The passenger, thank goodness, is doing much better - his family send their thanks. He is still in intensive care but stable."

CONTACT: For further information, please contact Pauline Doyle on+44-(0)7976-832-861

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