Doc 10185, Manual on the Critical Incident Response Programme for Cabin Crew. First Edition, 2023.
A critical incident is any event that has the potential to cause an unusually strong emotional reaction and interfere with a person’s routine functioning level. Its impact goes beyond the bounds of normal stress not only by the level of distress it evokes but also by how much and by how long it may overwhelm a person’s usual coping mechanisms. No one is immune from this response, regardless of past experiences or years of service in an organization. Some critical incidents are of such magnitude that they may evoke a post-critical incident stress response in almost every person exposed to the event. The aviation community has recognized the need to address personnel’s mental health well-being with the same level of openness and priority as physical well-being, including the need to respond to critical incidents.
Cabin crew members are safety professionals with many of the same safety, security, rescue and medical duties as first responders. As such, cabin crew are at risk of experiencing critical events and post-critical incident stress symptoms as are other first responder professionals. The implementation of a critical incident response programme (CIRP) is a proactive safety activity and has been a standard industry support service for most first responders. This type of programme predicts and plans for wellness issues that can impact safety. Although the operator may have a CIRP established for their employees, there is a need for a cabin crew-specific approach when implementing such a programme. The CIRP should focus on the specific needs of cabin crew members by supporting a culture of cabin crew resilience and overall well-being. This is consistent with the value/importance of cabin crew role within the aviation system. A CIRP contributes to a reduction of financial and productivity losses for the operator and supports its safety management.
The State plays a key role in the implementation of CIRPs across all sectors of the aviation industry. Although the State may not mandate such programmes, it should encourage their implementation by industry. A CIRP is a means to promote a proactive approach to managing safety at the national level.
This manual provides guidance related to the development and implementation of a CIRP specifically for cabin crew members. It presents the general concepts of stressful or critical events and the risk cabin crew face experiencing them, including post-critical incident stress symptoms. The manual addresses different aspects that an operator and other stakeholders, including cabin crew associations, should consider when developing and implementing a cabin crew-specific CIRP. It presents recommended content for awareness and training related to CIRP, to promote the use of the programme’s services by cabin crew, and ensure the engagement of all relevant stakeholders in the effective implementation of a CIRP.
This manual was developed with inputs from experts from civil aviation authorities, operators, mental health professionals, aircraft manufacturers, training organizations and international organizations. It was thereafter submitted for an extensive peer review to account for comments from the expert community.