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Old 25th Dec 2011, 12:30   #61 (permalink)
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Yeah, you're right, I was thinking of an ambu bag.Wonder why cabin crew don't have them - unqualified staff are trained to use them in the NHS and othe large organisations as part of Basic Life Support. You don't get paramedics blue-lighting their way to an airliner whilst in flight.
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Old 25th Dec 2011, 14:40   #62 (permalink)
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As far as I'm aware, it's because they're used with an artificial airway, which cabin crew are not trained to insert. Perhaps the staff at NHS ARE trained in how to do that.

I know we can attach an O2 bottle to one to supplement, but unless I'm mistaken we do not use the Ambu-bag- at least in my outfit. It might be different in others. I was told that the chances of us messing up an airway far outweigh any disadvantage the person might have from not having one... i.e... if a professional is there, it gets used... if not, well, better not to make things worse!

Gonna go have a check of my manual again, just in case...
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Old 25th Dec 2011, 17:49   #63 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by givemewings
As far as I'm aware, it's because they're used with an artificial airway, which cabin crew are not trained to insert. Perhaps the staff at NHS ARE trained in how to do that.

I know we can attach an O2 bottle to one to supplement, but unless I'm mistaken we do not use the Ambu-bag- at least in my outfit. It might be different in others. I was told that the chances of us messing up an airway far outweigh any disadvantage the person might have from not having one... i.e... if a professional is there, it gets used... if not, well, better not to make things worse!

Gonna go have a check of my manual again, just in case
There's no need for artificial airway when using ambu-bags. It's just a better substitute for the standard masks you may be familiar with using. It allows you to administer near enough 100% oxygen upon ventilation (assuming it's attached to high-flow O2) whereas other methods such as direct mouth to mouth are considerably less efficient. You can use the bag connected to an artificial airway instead of the bag, but you don't need to.

I am not an employee of BA or any other airline - I am NHS - but I would suggest that the reason they're not used it that they can be bloody hard to use. You need at least two people - the seal needs to be maintained around the mouth and nose whilst the compressions are given. That in itself is hard enough. If you're not experienced you'll struggle to get a good seal. Most people need two hands to do this, and as such can't squeeze the bag. Thus, you need another person. This potentially interrupts the compression delivery - which by modern protocol and standards is the 'more important' aspect of CPR.

Another problem is that when people do get a good seal they often squeeze the bag hard - overinflating the lungs, and negating a lot of the benefit of doing it in the first place.

Ultimately with a standard rebreath mask you ensure a good airway and make sure the mask is properly attached etc, wheras the ambu-bag takes an awful lot more knowledge and ability to use effectively.

This is absolutely no criticism of the level of training or ability of airline staff. For (hopefully) such a rare occurrence however, I'd say it's unreasonable to expect them to use something like an ambu-bag.
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Old 25th Dec 2011, 21:14   #64 (permalink)
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thanks for explaining how it works. So basically, the effort needed isn't very practical in the scenarios that cabin crew are likely to face. As you say, crew most often use 2 operator CPR and given that usually takes place in a galley there is hardly the room for it, and if there is space for an extra then the medical professional if available would be assisting with that I am sure.

Anyway, sorry for the thread drift!
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Old 26th Dec 2011, 16:25   #65 (permalink)
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We required a flow test long enough to exhaust O2 in the line from the FD shutoff valve in case it was closed and also with mic on to check it was working.
Recollect FE in GF who used to complain about the noise.

Last edited by Basil; 27th Dec 2011 at 15:26.
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Old 8th Jan 2012, 22:38   #66 (permalink)
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Investigation launched after BA pilots taken ill

An investigation has been launched after a British Airways flight from London to Glasgow had to turn back because the two pilots were taken ill.

The Airbus A320 had taken off from Heathrow on 20 December when a request was made for an emergency landing after the flight crew requested oxygen.

A BA spokeswoman said the aircraft landed completely safely.

The Civil Aviation Authority was notified and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch probe started.

British Airways said oxygen masks were deployed on the flight deck as a precaution.

Once the plane had landed in London, passengers disembarked and were flown to Glasgow on a replacement service with a new flight crew after a short wait, the company said.

The spokeswoman said passenger safety was paramount.
No comment on any passenger being taken ill so it suggess this was something on the flight deck.

Source: BBC News - Investigation launched after BA pilots taken ill
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Old 8th Jan 2012, 22:47   #67 (permalink)
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A slightly more exaggerated version of the story!

BA passenger jet makes emergency landing after both pilots 'pass out' at the controls | Mail Online
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 03:46   #68 (permalink)
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Here's my interpretation (I am BA cabin crew).

As everyone has said, the alert call made was bog-standard for any non-normal situation (be it tech fault, pilot incap, diversion for any reason). Never known a BA captain to panic myself... PA would have been made through the built in mic on the EROS mask so would have sounded a little different to normal.

As for the crew taking the oxygen bottle to the flight deck, well that's not a formal procedure, but likely just a precaution taken. Afterall, they're stowed above the crew seats right outside the flight deck door, I'd probably grab one myself in that situation. Quite possibly the crew member was feeling a bit light-headed themselves and put 2 and 2 together. Might sound a bit pointless when there are the EROS masks on the f/d, but in the case of pilot incap, we're trained to use the portable bottles (it makes it easier to move them if necessary and it allows us to see if they've vomited etc)

All in all, it sounds like a minor decompression/fume event. From all accounts handled correctly by the crew.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 11:19   #69 (permalink)
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An interesting link here that has the flight in a sort of playback visualisation!

BA Crew almost pass out at controls- planefinder.net
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 11:43   #70 (permalink)
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I'm a doctor (surgeon), not a pilot but a reasonably regular passenger. I agree with Skittles' post with regard to the description of the ambu-bag and why it would not be advisable to use it without training. However, I must take issue with the constant reference to rebreathe bags. In most cases, bags attached to masks have nothing to do with rebreathing. They are reservoir bags. When you take a breath in the peak flow rate is around 40-60 l/min, significantly higher than the maximum 15 l/min flow of oxygen supplied by most systems in hospital (not sure what's available on aircraft). Therefore air is entrained from the surroundings thus diluting the inhaled oxygen concentration. A mask without a reservoir bag will deliver a maximum of around 50% oxygen with a flow rate of 15 l/min. The purpose of the reservoir bag is to fill with oxygen in between breaths. During peak inspiration, oxygen will come straight from the supply as well as from the reservoir bag, increasing the inspired oxygen concentration to around 80% max. The only way to deliver 100% oxygen is with a closed anaesthetic circuit.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 14:32   #71 (permalink)
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The story has now even made it into Germany's largest tabloid:

Passagiere hören Panik-Rufe der Pilotin: Schwindelanfall im Cockpit

The German version is even more sensationalist:

"Passengers hear pilot shouting in panic"
"Shock for passengers..."
"Pilot desperately calling flights attendants for help"
"Desperate scenes in the cockpit"
"Apparently the aircraft only narrowly escaped a catastrophe"

In my next life I will become a journo as I am reading aviation forums all day anyway...
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 18:41   #72 (permalink)
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I don't usually post but I thought you might be interested in the article that my mother found. Unfortunately, she reads the Daily Express which always provides me with a good chuckle when I read the sh*t they write in there.
Anyway, here's the article.

Panic on a BA jet as pilots faint

A BRITISH Airways jet was forced to make an emergency landing after the pilots almost passed out at the controls.
The captain and First Officer reported feeling light-headed as the jet climbed to 20,000ft on its way to Glasgow.
Passengers heard a "panicked" captain call for cabin crew. They gave the pilots oxygen as they requested an emergency return to Heathrow.
The Airbus 321 landed safely but both men told paramedics they had felt as if they were about to pass out.
The incident is being investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.
It was reported by a passenger on a pilots' website.
He said "There were worried faces across tall of the attendants and the next thing an oxygen cylinder and mask were taken forward and we were heading back to Heathrow.
"We landed no problem but were met by a full fire service turn-out. The first on board were paramedics."
Confirming the incident, BA said: "Our pilots are highly trained to deal with such circumstances."
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 19:08   #73 (permalink)
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"Our pilots are highly trained to deal with such circumstances."
No thank you.
I would prefer it were the Flight Attendants doing the Artificial respiration part.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 19:30   #74 (permalink)
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A decompression or fume event is not a simple event and if you work for BA you should be careful not to add fuel to this misinformed media fire!

I am well informed enough to say that there was or nothing technically attributed to the aircraft.

I am also well informed enough that any contaminated air or lack of pressurisation affects the whole aircraft and not just the flight deck

The investigation on the aircraft side was completed within 12hrs. With flight data showing no abnormalities.

Pilots are trained to err on the side of caution with any event. I commend the flight crew in the actions they took.

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Old 9th Jan 2012, 19:31   #75 (permalink)
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The daily Telegraph almost quotes PPRuNe by saying 'was also reported by a passenger on a website for professional pilots'.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 20:32   #76 (permalink)
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Oxygen Masks --- and

Just to clarify - I hope - the different types of oxygen masks that exist - at least in a First Aid/Medical situation {that is excluding such as Scuba equipment, fireman Breathing Apparatus, and such as maybe seen on a flight deck}

Normal air (at seal level) contains 20-21 percent oxygen.

There are basically two types of equipment, for patients who are breathing and those not breathing.

For those breathing, there are generally speaking 3 types:
1) The Nasal Canular (not really a mask, but a tube with two short outlets that insert into the nostrils). Depending on the flow rate (generally 1 to 4 litres a minute) this delivers the patient an oxygen percentage of between 22 and 44 percent.

2) The Face Mask. This fits over the nose and mouth, usually secured by elastic. This mask usually has perforations to the outside air, and again depending on the flow rate selected, delivers between 25 and 45 percent oxygen.

3) The Non Rebreathing mask, Similar to the Face Mask, except that there are one-way valves to the outside air. These generally will have a reservoir - a thin plastic bag - fed with pure oxygen. This mask can deliver upto around 90% oxy.

The big one is the BVM (Bag Valve Mask). For non-breathing (thus unconcious) patients. This mask has a (if used properly) good seal over nose and mouth. Then there is a tough bag that is squeezed by hand to force oxygen into the lungs. Attached to that is usually a reservoir bag too. In this scenario, oxygen flow would be set to max (usually 15 litres/minute)

If you're using a BVM, you're also in a full CPR situation and giving chest compressions too - the recipient isnt flying anything...

The OP and others havn't given a detailed desription of the oxy kit used, but as the pilots continued flying, it COULD NOT have been BVM. As a +bag+ was mentioned, probably a non-rebreathing mask.

STRNGE: It's been mentioned that the first on-board on landing were ambulace/paramedics. Were any noxious fumes/gasses suspeceted, first on would hve been Firemen in Brething Apparatus, with their test equipment.

So, whatever happened, its cler that ground teams had depreciated the seriousness of the issue before landing.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 23:48   #77 (permalink)

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Tiberius, A320 masks are not a secret, see

Also, AFAIK, the % by volume of O2 stays the same up to about 75km.
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 03:00   #78 (permalink)
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CNN is now covering it on their website, with a direct link and reference to this forum.
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 15:40   #79 (permalink)
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Nothing has been found wrong with the aeroplane - could this account for it? Mass hysteria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 16:54   #80 (permalink)
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We picked up a 737 one afternoon at Burbank, Ca. We flew all the rest of the day and ended up getting the same plane the next morning in San Jose. We did our standard full preflight and when we tested the oxygen we got a momentary flow, then nothing. The crew the day before had the crew oxygen bottle changed but it wasn't turned on. Probably totally unrelated to this situation but worth thinking about.
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british airways, rtb, tech fault

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