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Brave doctor heads rescue during Singapore Airlines emergency


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Thailand has been praised for its efficient handling of an emergency involving a Singapore Airlines flight experiencing severe turbulence over Myanmar on May 21. Leading the team was Dr Wichanya Burirak, an aviation enthusiast and physician.

 

The incident occurred when Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321, on its way from London to Singapore, encountered heavy turbulence. Reports of injured passengers and crew prompted the pilots to make an emergency landing in Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

 

Dr Wichanya, a graduate of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine, described the scene at the airport as chaotic, with people rushing all over the place.

 

There was little time to prepare as the airplane, carrying 229 passengers and crew, touched down 20 minutes earlier than expected at 3:51pm. The scale of the incident became evident when Dr Wichanya boarded the plane and saw the injured passengers, many of whom were seriously hurt.

 

After taking stock of the situation, Dr Wichanya contacted Suvarnabhumi Airport’s director, Kittipong Kittikachorn, to implement a mass casualty plan. Following approval, she coordinated her medical team, paramedics from Samitivej Hospital, rescuers, and a transport team to assist the injured.

 

The operation was swift. Injured passengers were rushed to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, located 19 kilometers away, in just 15 minutes – half of the typical travel time.

 

The affected flight had passengers from 16 nations, with the most coming from Australia (56), the United Kingdom (47), and Singapore (41). As per Singapore Airlines, 40 passengers and one crew member are still receiving treatment in a Bangkok hospital. The injuries range from spinal, skull, and brain injuries, and sadly, there was also one fatality, 73-year-old Briton Geoff Kitchen.

 

Dr Wichanya, who has spent 12 years working at Suvarnabhumi, said this was the largest incident she's dealt with. She expressed her childhood love for airplanes, even winning the title of True Fan of Airlines on a TV game show in 2005.

 

Photo courtesy of The Thaiger

 

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-- 2024-05-29

 

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20 minutes ago, Chris Daley said:

He gets paid to do it.  Clue in the word doctor.


Please tell us your emergency response experience, and how you would manage a mass casualty event, instead of posting your normal nonsense from your behind the keyboard!

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I saw part of this happen while on my way to Phnom Penh last week.

 

Sitting there waiting for my delayed flight I first heard the sirens - lots of them.

 

When we got onto the 'shuttle bus' that took us to the plane an hour or two later (was early + a delay) we drove right past a load of parked up ambulances, they all had their lights flashing which was odd.

 

I didn't give it a second thought at the time but I guess they were real busy working this situation. Didn't notice if they were next to a plane or somewhere else, it was a little odd to see so many ambulances 'in action' on the aircraft side of the airport though.

 

When I read about this incident a little later after checking into my hotel it made more sense.

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5 hours ago, ukrules said:

I saw part of this happen while on my way to Phnom Penh last week.

 

Sitting there waiting for my delayed flight I first heard the sirens - lots of them.

 

When we got onto the 'shuttle bus' that took us to the plane an hour or two later (was early + a delay) we drove right past a load of parked up ambulances, they all had their lights flashing which was odd.

 

I didn't give it a second thought at the time but I guess they were real busy working this situation. Didn't notice if they were next to a plane or somewhere else, it was a little odd to see so many ambulances 'in action' on the aircraft side of the airport though.

 

When I read about this incident a little later after checking into my hotel it made more sense.


In Thailand responders do like to use their vehicle emergency lights all the time, as you would normally expect at an emergency incident scene only the command/lead vehicle keeps it flashing lights on, with all the others turned off, unless the vehicles are parked in a dangerous position, such as on a roadway.

 

Airport rules require glashing lights are used always. ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Annex 14, airport standards, says that all vehicle airside must display flashing warning lights, with emergency or security vehicles it will be flashing blue and those displayed on other vehicles shall be flashing yellow.

 

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Sounds like the airport had an "emergency accident" plan in place and as it was needed that day it was put into action and well executed.

All international and regional airports have to have this "crisis management plan" in case of emergencies such as this.

The airport crisis team manage the initial response an liaise with outside emergency services as needed.

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Lucky for the passengers Singapore Air will pay for hospital costs if not some passengers probably would end up on the streets or in a government hospital if can't show credit card,cash or insurance,

just a thought

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2 hours ago, hotchilli said:

Sounds like the airport had an "emergency accident" plan in place and as it was needed that day it was put into action and well executed.

All international and regional airports have to have this "crisis management plan" in case of emergencies such as this.

The airport crisis team manage the initial response an liaise with outside emergency services as needed.

Fully agree with your statement, but please let me be boring and correct some terminology.

 

All airports will have an emergency response and contingency plan, which will follow ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) guidance and is the pre-determined plan for any incident, accident or occurrence, and hopefully covers all possible eventualities. That plan will be practised regularly and updated/amended as necessary. The emergency response and contingency plan covers preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery from any event, with a focus on saving lives and preserving property, and is split into 2 levels, operational and tactical.

 

This doctor lead the operational response at the aircraft, but would report to an Incident Commander, in charge of the tactical needs of the incident, dealing with all operations, logistics, planning, reporting/recording systems, To support the Incident Commander a forward command post and team was set up at the airport fire station.


The airport will also have a crisis management plan, and team, which will be removed away from the incident response and concentrates on a proactive strategic approach, covering crisis communications, media releases, stakeholder management (Singapore Airlines and government agencies), ensure continued business operations/return to normality with minimum disruption, protecting the airport’s reputation and maintaining business confidence.

 

A standard 3 tier response, which is reported to have worked very well.

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2 hours ago, Georgealbert said:

Fully agree with your statement, but please let me be boring and correct some terminology.

 

All airports will have an emergency response and contingency plan, which will follow ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) guidance and is the pre-determined plan for any incident, accident or occurrence, and hopefully covers all possible eventualities. That plan will be practised regularly and updated/amended as necessary. The emergency response and contingency plan covers preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery from any event, with a focus on saving lives and preserving property, and is split into 2 levels, operational and tactical.

 

This doctor lead the operational response at the aircraft, but would report to an Incident Commander, in charge of the tactical needs of the incident, dealing with all operations, logistics, planning, reporting/recording systems, To support the Incident Commander a forward command post and team was set up at the airport fire station.


The airport will also have a crisis management plan, and team, which will be removed away from the incident response and concentrates on a proactive strategic approach, covering crisis communications, media releases, stakeholder management (Singapore Airlines and government agencies), ensure continued business operations/return to normality with minimum disruption, protecting the airport’s reputation and maintaining business confidence.

 

A standard 3 tier response, which is reported to have worked very well.

Thank you for the full version of what I said.

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21 hours ago, Georgealbert said:


Please tell us your emergency response experience, and how you would manage a mass casualty event, instead of posting your normal nonsense from your behind the keyboard!

Behind the keyboard would probably be under the desk!

😁

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