Nov. 17, 2022

The importance of developing an effective emergency response plan for your flight operation, and the benefits of enlisting a third-party response provider to offer further assistance in times of emergency situations, was the subject of a Nov. 17 NBAA News Hour “Thought Leadership” webinar, sponsored by MedAire.

One effect of the pandemic has been heightened awareness of potential complications when traveling, especially internationally. Richard Gomez, vice-president of aviation products and management for MedAire, offered a real-life example of how “COVID has changed the world,” after he awakened the morning of the presentation with “a head cold… I think.

“I’m away from home on a business trip,” he continued. “I took a COVID test and it’s negative, but let’s assume I tested positive. Who would have been taking care of me today? Who’s going to be able to get me medication; can I even get medication here? Those are the kinds of things that changed in the medical world post-pandemic.”

“Does your risk management program offer real and practical applications for crew members on long missions?” added Rich Lobovsky, head of market development for Bond. “Don’t just say ‘yes, we have a system in place.’ Is it practical? Does it really apply [to actual situations]? You need to talk to the crews using it and ask what they would like to see different.”

Medical issues aren’t the only potential issues crews may encounter. In many cases, crewmembers may find themselves in situations that aren’t clear emergencies, but still present potential risks.

“About 98% of all of our calls aren’t an emergency, but helping the user navigate through a particular situation,” said Lobovsky. “You’re feeling uncomfortable, nervous, anxious or even afraid, but you don’t necessarily think it’s an emergency where you’re dialing 911.”

Third-party providers “are not a replacement for emergency assistance,” he emphasized. “We are a conduit to emergency assistance when it’s needed.”

Mental and emotional fitness can also affect crewmembers’ fitness for duty. “We’re happy that mental health and wellbeing is not one of the top issues out there, but it is growing … and continues to be an emerging issue not only for crewmembers, but really everyone,” Gomez said. “The world has definitely changed.”

And while global concerns shouldn’t weigh overly heavy on our minds, Gomez emphasized the importance of developing an effective response plan to potential crises. “The next thing is coming,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time and we need to be prepared. You might not use it today, but you will use it in the future.”