After a sick passenger on a United Airlines flight caused an Ebola scare at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday, flight attendants have expressed concern about the deadly disease, according to aviation officials.
LAX Association of Flight Attendants President Dante Harris told NBC4 that he has been getting calls and emails from flight attendants worried about Ebola, but added that flight attendants have been trained to deal with medical issues and are responsible for checking out every passenger for health and safety risks.
"You don’t know that we’re looking but we are," Harris said. "Our responsibility is to assess every single passenger and try to interact with every single passenger when they get on the flight."
Passengers on United Airlines Flight 703 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport were kept on board for two hours Sunday afternoon because one passenger exhibited flu-like symptoms and had recently traveled to Africa.
"It has turned out that there was some miscommunication - that this patient had been to the continent of Africa, but not near West Africa," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said. "As a matter of fact, it was South Africa. The patient has been ill on flights before and got ill on this flight. There is no reason to believe this person (had) been exposed to an Ebola virus."
Passengers were escorted off the tarmac when officials learned the threat was a false alarm.
In addition to first aid and CPR training, Harris said flight attendants are also trained to use medical kits for infectious diseases that are onboard every plane.
"We have gloves and we have masks. We have face shields and we're trained on all those items," Harris said.
Harris said that when there is a medical concern, the pilot consults with a ground crew to determine whether or not to divert the plane.
"My first reaction is that the flight attendants did what they were supposed to do (Sunday) in identifying the issue and calling the appropriate authorities," Harris said.