Flight attendants with first-aid training are being drafted in to help on the front lines of the battle to beat coronavirus.
In the U.K. the National Health Service has enlisted cabin crew from both Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet to assist staff at the temporary 4,000-bed Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in London. Further temporary hospitals are being planned in Manchester and Birmingham and flight attendants that are temporarily grounded are being provided special training to assist medical staff.
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With many of the world’s airlines grounding more than 90% of their scheduled flights, the initiative is a fantastic demonstration of adaptability during adversity. Both Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have requested U.K. government support and the salaries of flight attendants assisting in hospitals will continue to be paid by airlines.
Flight attendants are incredibly well trained to deal with a plethora of situations, including administering first-aid and passenger safety. With the grounding of fleets, and idling of hundreds of thousands of staff for potentially the next few months, this initiative would be hugely beneficial to help deal with the increased staffing requirements at hospitals.
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If there is a sector of the economy that is well-trained and adaptable to scenarios that require quick-thinking and professionalism it is flight attendants. The creative redeployment of flight attendants could be one of the most obvious, albeit temporary sectoral shifts to ensure that staff are not made redundant.
Of course, with the potential dangers involved on the front line, all redeployment is and should remain, voluntary. However, from my experience, flight attendants are the very first group of people to put their hands up and stand up to the task of adversity in front of them.
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Passenger safety is the main priority of flight attendants. Serving food and beverages is simply an additional part of the job role. Flight attendants are stringently trained to keep passengers safe. To put it bluntly, cabin crew know what they are doing.
The current uncertainty requires the public and private sectors to work together more than ever to find creative solutions to ensure that those trained workers that are temporarily furloughed in the leisure sector, are still able to utilise their skills.
EasyJet has 4,000 flight attendants trained in CPR and the airline has already asked its staff to assist with the NHS in the U.K. Virgin Atlantic are expected to ask their staff to do the same today.
BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND – MARCH 29: A message of ‘Keep Calm And Keep 6 Feet Apart’ by Illustrator … [+]
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven also said that flight attendants that have been temporarily laid-off by airlines are the right candidates to be rapidly re-trained to help medical staff.
In the U.S., flight disruptions to domestic routes have not been as extensively felt as in Europe. Some airlines such as JetBlue and Alaska are still aiming to operate as much as 70% of their scheduled flights. However, on international routes, the few flights that remain are with the primary objective of repatriating citizens.