The annual three-day Recurrent Ground Course (RGC) presents cabin crew personnel with an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of first aid, emergency and general procedures, and crew resource management. The three full days, in which there is a great deal of content to deal with, are certainly action-packed.
Last month it was time once again for me to attend the annual three-day Recurrent Ground Course, or RGC as we crew members refer to it.
The first item of business is to refresh our basic knowledge of medical matters. Where is a particular type of medication located? What questions must I ask before I administer anything? How do I respond in a serious situation, such as when a passenger becomes unconscious and perhaps stops breathing? Such scenarios are more common than one might expect. Air pressure within the cabin is the same as on a mountain peak at an altitude of 2,500 metres, which can cause difficulties for ill and elderly people. The extremely dry air on board is another troublesome factor on long-haul flights in particular. The importance of this training is reflected by statistics. If a problem arises, we can respond faster and more skilfully to bring it under control or at least prevent the worst possible outcome.
On the second day of the course we train inflight scenarios in a cabin mock-up environment. Last year a smoke drill was simulated, while this year’s topic was various forms of decompression. By training unusual situations, it is possible to respond faster and more competently in a real-life incident. The ability to respond swiftly is essential. And the importance of effective communication cannot be underestimated. A flight can last a long time, and access to the flight deck is barred by a steel door. It should not be taken for granted that the flow of information will go smoothly. By rehearsing an emergency we get to see where our own strengths and weaknesses lie and take appropriate action. After all, operating a flight safely requires the involvement of every single crew member.
The final day of the course includes my favourite exercise: fighting fire. Before I began flying I was very afraid of flames. Through the drills I have learned how to extinguish or contain a fire with a few simple actions. Such knowledge is beneficial away from an airplane, too. The day concludes with a test to make sure participants have mastered all procedures and know where equipment can be found if needed. Anyone who fails the test must repeat it as only those who possess the necessary knowledge and skills are permitted to fly.
Happily, I passed the test and can therefore continue to enjoy the sun above the clouds. And even if I am trained to deal with a serious incident, I’ll gladly forego the experience!