Accident report on Av Herald here on 24th October 2016
From my perspective the first I was aware of anything non normal was during a walkaround approx 40-50 mins post take off. X/X/X/X crew at M4 were discussing strange smell aft M4L LHS, described by crew as ‘glue type odour / burning plastic. I could not smell it as at that point a family fwd D4L had used what i later found out to be oblate oil on their baby. Crew reiterated that that smell was not what was smelt short while before. CS then told me pax in 28(?)HJK had asked her “what are we smelling?” & that it had been noticed in area of rows 23-28HJK.
I believe i contacted F/C to report it then went up to crew UD WT galley. They told me they had noticed and discussed strange smell earlier (boarding/post take off) put down to ‘smelly feet’. I then became aware XX was unwell & vomitting. I believe I then made a face to face visit to F/D (via all galleys informing crew of situ)
F/C said contacted maintrol who advised checking ovens and trash compactors, which proved to be unsuccessful in locating source. F/O XX came to rear a/c but could not smell it.
Over the course of next 40(?) mins I continued constant face to face contact with all galleys keeping them in the loop including captains thoughts that a diversion maybe needed and to be prepared for the alert call etc. It soon became apparent that more crew were behaving in a non normal manner. Reports of dizziness, light heads, headaches, nausea, itchy red eyes, metallic taste in mouth, floating type feelings, flushed,aggression and most worryingly, forgetfulness and confusion, inability think straight and converse in normal manner.
I and XX witnessed XX say something completely out of context to what we were discussing and then seconds later he was unable to recall it and in fact bluntly denied he said it. I asked XX to watch XX while i went to F/D & he was put on oxygen as a 1st aid treatment.
Medlink was called and during the conversation between the doctor and capt it was discussed that whilst XX was most ‘serious’, we did have XX still unwell and out of service and that approx 12 crew were giving us cause for concern etc,
Capt Bunn decided to ‘call it’ and make decision to divert. Medlink call disconnected, Capt & F/O XX made some initial calls on the radio and then Capt & I discussed the plan forward.
He would be initiating the alert call while i was in F/D, then i would go into cabin and make the NITS call to the crew. NITS being…N fume event / I intend to divert to YYC / T was 0550 on watch (BST) and looking at 40-50 mins to YYC
S Pa would say tech/safety issue with a/craft and one/some crew unwell
Alert call made, OG & IP came to F/D and were dismissed as I was in F/D already as per SOP’s.
I left & returned to cabin to make emer call from M1R to all 17 stations. Couple crew were slow to respond which i put down to getting caught with customers etc but i was later told the crew were actually on the phone but couldn’t function and seemed spaced out and other crew had to prompt them to their actions. About 3 crew had questions for me in the NITS which were answered and or addressed. Crew were visible in cabin during capt PA.
Cabin services were withdrawn/completed as necessary.
A while later the diversion destination was changed toYVR as better equipped to take the 380. Pax informed. We now had extra hour is of flying time ahead. Pax were mostly calm & remained seated.
For the remainder of the flight I was being constantly updated with crew showing non normal behaviour with it seemingly being the U/D crew most affected. 8 out 9 crew UD had time on oxygen at some point. We would ‘lose’ crew who would say going to loo and then we find them other end a/c not knowing how they got there, crew in corners on floor with blanket over their heads, crew ‘stuffing food’ in their mouths while on oxygen.
XX came up to few of us in 1st and said “i’m shaky who’s got the coffee?’ XX & I asked him who is shaky… He had no recollection of saying that and denied it even though up to 4 of us heard him say it.
I myself experienced a moment of forgetfulness and inability to get words out whilst on UD, XX witnessed it.
I wanted to report this to Capt and took XX to f/d with me in case I forgot why I was going in there etc.
On entering F/D we found Capt on oxygen and 2 F/O’s not. I said to XXXX is this a precaution, he said yes. I then went on to tell him about my incident and again i couldn’t get words out and remember what exactly it was i wanted to say, but i did moment later. XX commented on strange smell in F/D to F/O VS who said “couldn’t smell anything but maybe we are climatised to it”
It was discussed about crew being capable of door coverage for landing etc. XX was definetly unable to mange a door but we had little choice in regards to others but to hope for the best as so many crew had been effected.
20 min call made, we were in good place re cabin preps to be ready etc. It was discussed by capt & I that I would make PA to pax asking them to remain seated whilst paramedics boarded and saw to crew who needed medical attention. We landed ok at approx 2330 local (0730 BST) and were met by lots of emergency vehicles surrounding the a/c.
It was decided that we would prioritise the worst affected crew. I made a list for the paramedics of names and a/c locations etc.
The capt and & I opened M1L. It soon became apparent that before anything else was to be done that 2 ‘firefighters’ were to board a/c with full protective equip on and handheld devices that would be looking for non normal fumes/vapours/gases etc. I knew this would startle the pax and very soon lots of mobile phones started taking photos.
Once completed 2 paramedics boarded and visited the necessary crew. They were to be disembarked with their hand luggage and seen by medical personnel at top of jetty and then go to hospital. Capt & I discussed moving crew around to give necessary door coverage on UD as it was to be entire UD crew plus XX getting off at this point.
I then walked around a/c (ground team had said they weren’t quite ready in the terminal for disembarking) informing other crew of situ. I found XX talking to paramedics and it soon became apparent that all crew needed to be checked out and paramedics were very much in favour of this.
I went straight to Capt at D1L and said I think we need to ‘call it” and just say all off. He immediately agreed and told the ground staff of our situ and decision.
Crew onboard were informed.
Main deck pax disembarked first to allow some kind of order in terminal. Then UD pax. I recall a lady stopping XX saying she wanted her husband checked out. They had been sitting last row rear UD. They were seen on jetty but am unaware of outcome.
Mostly pax were ok and capt & I were at door as they disembarked. Some saying hope crew are ok.
Myself and remaining crew disembarked after being given triage card and saw medical personnel at top jetty. Varying levels of health issues which the individual crew will put on their own incident reports. I felt my heart racing and a tightness in my chest which i got checked out for.
We were then put on a bus bar XX who was stretchered off in ambulance, and told we would be split into total 3 hospitals for checking.
Again, varying health issues amongst the crew but we were eventually all back at the YVR incumbent crew hotel Westin.
Doms informed and rest begun.
Rest was distrupted approx 8 1/2 hrs into the agreed 14 planned. This turned out to be a capacity issue with the hotel.
Transport was arranged for us to move across town and rest restarted once there.
At check out of 1st hotel, crew complained of still suffering from complaints, in particular XX who was throwing up. Capt rand GLL who was to arrange a doc to see him at other hotel. Arrived approx 1630 local (0030 BST)
Many crew said they would be contacting GLL from their rooms.
I took a list of names so I had some idea of crew health situs etc.
Capt & I said we would be in lobby area later for those who wish to chat/eat/catch up etc
Crew made individual arrangements with GLL, with 2 going back to hospital for clearance.
I kept crew as up to date as possible with notes under doors and room messages.
Doms were fantastic throughout.
All crew cleared to fly home as passengers by departure following day.
We bused 4 1/2 hours to Seattle and flew from there.
Met at LHR by 2 IBM’s and had a safety debrief.
During disembarking some crew felt unwell, in particular XX who collapsed and vommitted. Medics saw him on train platform.
Lots of crew felt the stress and became anxious and upset once off the a/c.