CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain

A Sick Flight Attendant and A Sick Passenger

Posted by Jeffrey on August 11, 2008

I just finished a four-day trip. In some ways it was a very good trip, in others ways some unique things happened. The first thing out of the ordinary was that one of my flight attendants got sick and took herself off the trip. The second thing was that during one of our legs, my flight attendants had to administer oxygen to a passenger that was having difficulty.

no one deals like we do!

Here is a little history…I have been with SkyWest for 5 years. Two of those years I’ve been a captain. In all that time, I have never had to have a flight attendant taken off a flight. On this trip, one of my flight attendants (FA) was sick when the trip started and got sicker as the trip went on. On the third day of the trip, my FA didn’t show up at the van at our scheduled departure time. I called her room and she was coughing like crazy and had told me that she had called in sick and would try to join up with us for the overnight. I was a little peeved. Being the captain, someone should have called me. As it turns out, crew support were the ones that were suppose to call me but didn’t. No matter, I got over it. After returning to ORD, I talked to the FA and she was still coughing like crazy. We discussed that her best option was to stay in the hotel and let the company get her home in the morning, but crew support stepped up and got her home to Colorado Springs that night.

The other incident involved a passenger. During the flight, a passenger started twitching. Who knows why! Maybe it was her medication or maybe it was the pressure changes. In case you don’t know, cabin pressure climbs to make it comfortable for the passengers. Our airplanes fly between 12,000 feet and 39,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL). Since people can’t breath at those altitudes, the cabin is pressurized. But the deal here is that the if we were to maintain pressure within the cabin that matches the pressure at the originating station, the difference between the originating station pressure and 39,000 feet would cause the cabin to explode. It’s a matter of physics. So anyway, lets say we start at sea level and climb to 39,000 feet — obviously you can’t maintain sea level pressure at 39,000 feet, so the cabin pressure climbs so that cabin doesn’t explode. So basically, the cabin pressure climbs to a pressure of somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. This can be difficult for some passengers. Passengers that are not acclimated to higher altitudes can have problems, like this woman on my flight. Oxygen usually takes care of the problem though. — To make sure that the woman was completely OK, which we figured she would be upon landing, we still had EMT meet us at the airplane.

Either way, it was a unique experience and a good learning experience for a captain.

Till next time…

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