Yesterday I talked about how flight attendants must learn a lot about safety and hopefully never have to use it. Once per year current flight attendants must return to AirTran’s training facility in Atlanta, GA to practice their safety skills. Part of that training involves the proper procedures during a water landing. The recent US Airways ditch in the Hudson River is a reminder that these things can happen and by following the flight attendant’s commands can save lives.
The ditch training was inside a mock Boeing 717 with about seven rows. The flight attendants had no idea that fake smoke would be pumped into the cabin. I knew it was going to be dark (I had night vision on my camera, in reality you could barely see anything). I knew it was a water landing. I knew there was going to be smoke pumped in. I also knew it was all fake. However, once the training started, it was very disorienting and although the flight attendants were yelling to get my life vest, I initially forgot it and had to go back to get it. That could have been the difference between life and death.
In the video you can hear some laughing and we were all having a good time with the practice, but it was taken very seriously. There were only about 15 of us in that small cabin, but it was shocking how long it took us to get out. There obviously was no real panic or rush to save our own lives, I couldn’t imagine the chaos that would occur during a real crash with over 150 passengers trying to evacuate an aircraft.
I wish every passenger could experience something like this, to be prepared to react in a life or death situation, since reading the safety information card, just cannot prepare you.