Woman waited an hour for ambulance after fall from aircraft

Passenger disembarking from Australia flight sustained injuries at Cork Airport

The passenger recalled that while leaving the aircraft she fell from the top of the steps and attempted to grab the handrail to prevent the fall. Photograph: Getty Images

The passenger recalled that while leaving the aircraft she fell from the top of the steps and attempted to grab the handrail to prevent the fall. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A woman had to wait almost an hour for an ambulance after suffering head, shoulder and knee injuries when she fell from the top of an aircraft stairs at Cork Airport, according to a report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit.

The incident occurred just before 6pm on May 26th following a scheduled flight from Manchester.

The report says a police officer from the Airport Police Fire Service saw the woman lose balance at the top of the aircraft steps, fall and land on the ground below at 5.58pm. He immediately called for an ambulance and assistance from colleagues in the service and an initial assessment was carried out.

“Due to the passenger’s injuries a decision was taken not to move her until she had been assessed by ambulance personnel,” the report states. “The APFS then tried to make the passenger comfortable and monitored her condition until the ambulance arrived at 6.50pm. The APFS officer understood that the passenger had travelled to Ireland from Australia.”

‘Serious injuries’

The report said while the services were on the scene immediately and were monitoring the woman, “the investigation considers that an hour is a significant time for a person with potentially serious injuries to be lying on the ground at an international airport”.

The Health Information and Quality Authority sets out that in cases where patients have serious but not life-threatening conditions – which require an immediate response – the target is to have a patient-carrying vehicle at the scene within 19 minutes.

Management at Cork Airport informed the accident investigation unit that the ambulance response time for this particular incident was not in line with their experience and that the normal response time is “significantly shorter”.

The passenger recalled that while leaving the aircraft she fell from the top of the steps and attempted to grab the handrail to prevent the fall.

Broken shoulder

“She did not recall any trip or stumble which may have initiated the fall. At the time she was holding two pieces of hand luggage and was wearing ‘deck’ type shoes,” the report states.

The woman recounted injuries including a broken shoulder, badly bruised left knee, hip and head injury, which has caused persistent headaches and dizziness.

The accident investigation unit said the annual number of reported occurrences on aircraft steps is “relatively small” as are the number of other passenger injuries such as scalding with hot liquids.

“The time that an individual passenger spends on steps is also very small, typically a minute or less, compared to the amount of time the passenger spends on the aircraft for the rest of their flight, typically 90 minutes or more,” said the accident investigation unit.

“Consequently, on a pro-rata basis, the time a passenger spends on the steps is a time of higher risk of injury, than the remainder of their flight.”