Yesterday we witnessed the crash of an Emirates B773 at Dubai. I use the word “witnessed” as we may just as well have been eyewitnesses, what with visuals instantly available on the major TV channels, uploaded from social media. Had it happened a few years ago, we would simply not have had access to these dramatic visuals captured by actual eyewitnesses.
(See my previous blogs on the emergency and social media aspects of this phenomenon: Evacuate! Evacuate! Are you ready? and Beware the Jabberwock, my son! ).
What I find disturbing though, are the visuals recorded by passengers during the actual evacuation of EK521, with a life-threatening emergency in full swing:
Pax Evacuation EK521
During many previous aircraft emergencies we’ve witnessed this behaviour before: Cell’phones on, visuals recorded and instantly shared on social media. Allow me to be blunt: This type of behaviour deserves a Darwin Award for Deadly Stupidity!
It would appear that in aviation we’re not alone in this:
So what allows us to exhibit this kind of stupidity? What level of intelligence would allow a normally stable individual to jeopardize not only his/her own life, but the lives of others as well?
I can only assume that it is the same level of intelligence which would allow passengers to blatantly disregard the safety regulations, ignore safety briefings and refuse to obey lawful instructions regarding electronic devices.
The bottom line is that anything which could distract one during an emergency should be avoided at all costs – hence the announcement by cabin crew regarding no cell’phones or headphones before departure or arrival. When the fire is at your heels and the smoke is choking you, that is not the time to worry about your branded hand luggage or your personal effects – that is when saving lives should be your one and only concern.
I know that passenger safety is our single-minded concern. As professional air crew we’ll do everything possible to ensure that, but passengers also have a role to play in their own safety!
However, it would appear that any commonsense, reason and responsibility is zipped up and stowed in the luggage when passengers check in….