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

By Unite The Union, PRNE
Friday, March 12, 2010

LONDON, March 13, 2010 - 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

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

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

"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

"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

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

will not be displayed