Home » Narrative Nonfiction » 35 MILES FROM SHORE

35 MILES FROM SHORE

35 Miles From Shore
by Emilio Corsetti
ISBN- 0977897109
Publisher: Odyssey Publishing

Tobias and Margareth grabbed their life vests from under the flight attendant jump seats and took their positions in the cabin – Margareth in front and Tobias in the middle. Wilfred used the PA system in the rear of the cabin. Wilfred had had his share of non-routine flights himself. This one, however, he sensed was different. He had seen the navigator holding his life vest. He heard the tension in the voices of the crew members. Still, there was no indication that a ditching was imminent. He proceeded under the assumption that there would at least be a warning should the aircraft actually be forced to ditch. He told the passengers that the plane was running low on fuel and that the captain had requested that they prepare for a possible ditching as a “precautionary measure.” He gave the instructions in English and from memory. He instructed them to not inflate their life vests until they were in the water. There are several reasons for this: An inflated life vest is constraining and could interfere with the person’s ability to exit the aircraft. An inflated life vest is also vulnerable to puncture inside the aircraft. The most valid reason for not inflating the life vest inside the aircraft is that if the cabin were to rapidly fill up with water, the wearer might be unable to reach the exit. The passengers were also told to tighten the straps around their waists, but not too tightly. The rationale behind this policy was to prevent a feeling of constraint. But many passengers were rightfully confused by this instruction. How tight is too tight? Why wouldn’t you want the straps as tight as possible? Nothing was said about life rafts. Wilfred also failed to mention where the life vests were located. Most passengers knew to look under their seats either from the previous briefing or from the emergency briefing cards. Those who didn’t know where to find their vests quickly observed the other passengers or were assisted by the flight attendants. There was also no attempt made to enlist the help of passengers by placing them in seats where they could help with the launching of life rafts. In Wilfred’s defense, after he made the announcement about the life vests, he was immediately preoccupied with helping passengers. He also had other duties to perform – such as positioning the forward life raft and removing the slide bars from the two front doors. He did what he thought was the most prudent thing to do with the information he had at the time, and that was to get the passengers into their vests as soon as possible.

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