“While I have been part of several training sessions, standing in front of such an inferno was scary but I was able to think clearly and my training kicked in,” she says.
In an interview that I had conducted with the crew of flight 9W 973, in which the quick thinking of the crew saved the life of a passenger who suffered a heart attack mid-flight, I remember that the importance of their training process was mentioned several times.
Cabin supervisor Ashraf Rais had said, “We go through a very rigorous training process. I have been flying with Jet for over a decade now and have seen how every year they add more value to the course we go through. It is not just bookish knowledge they empower us with. We have multiple practice sessions with doctors and experts.”
It is all thanks to these training sessions and gruelling hours of practical mock drills that 25-year-old Radhika Ahire, a flight attendant with Jet Airways, was able to run up nine floors and empty nine extinguishers in a burning apartment in Mumbai before the firemen could arrive.
Here’s what transpired on November 7, 2018
A regular day for Radhika turned into one that she will remember all her life. “I was home and there was a puja going on that day. Suddenly everyone at home heard a lot of screaming and commotion. We saw that from the apartment complex opposite mine, a fire was billowing from the ninth floor,” she recalls.
Without wasting any time, Radhika and her brother Rohit rushed down to see how they could help.
She added, “A neighbour, Mahesh Belapulkar, who deals with fire-fighting equipment, came just in time with the tools he had at home. So armed with those and nine fire extinguishers we took from our apartment complex, we ran up to the ninth floor.”
Fortunately, none of the residents were at home at the time when the fire broke out. Recounting the experience, Radhika continues, “Given the critical situation, we broke down the door and started dousing the fire which had spread so much that despite emptying out the extinguishers we still had to use water. I had to cover my face with a piece of cloth as the fumes were causing a lot of irritation to my eyes and nose.”
All thanks to the training
“While I have been part of several training sessions, standing in front of such an inferno was indeed scary until my training kicked in allowing me to think clearly,” she says.
Airline crew not only go through the theoretical part of things but also get hands-on experience in a simulated scenario.
On Republic day this year, the residents of her apartment complex felicitated her for her courage. Acts of such true valor and quick thinking should not only be appreciated and but also be imitated in our lives.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)