PORT OF SPAIN –– The Piarco International Airport compound turned into an emergency scene on Wednesday night to handle passengers from American Airlines Flight 2713 who’d suffered injuries after the flight encountered turbulence en route from Miami.
The Airport Authority of T&T (AATT), which confirmed the development yesterday morning, said a total of 30 passengers were injured.
The Health Ministry confirmed the majority of patients received minor injuries. Three were taken to the Arima Heath Facility and attended to, and two were discharged. However, one person was transferred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope and warded for overnight attention, where she remained up to yesterday “resting under observation”.
“The injuries [of the warded passenger] aren’t life threatening,” Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said, declining — under patient confidentiality constraints — to identify the person.
Speaking to T&T Guardian after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Deyalsingh said he’d been told initially on Wednesday night that there were 27 on board who would have been affected.
“The final count was that nine people were affected, six of which were very minor injuries,” he said, detailing the other three who were treated, including the one warded at EWMSC.
Deyalsingh explained that in occurrences of severe air turbulence, airline passengers can sustain injuries ranging from minor issues to fractures, cardiac arrest and anxiety.
The drama unfolded aboard the aircraft, en route to Port of Spain when it encountered turbulence, likely caused by the inter-tropical convergence zone which has affected the region in the last 48 hours. Passengers included holiday makers returning home.
Ahead of landing in T&T, flight crew contacted the Airport Control Tower at Piarco to advise that the flight had experienced severe turbulence while en route.
The AATT in turn contacted Health Ministry senior medical staff and AATT and emergency response agencies arrived on site immediately to lend immediate care-support. Medical personnel provided immediate care on the scene.
Deyalsingh said after he was advised of the flight’s issues, he mobilised a fleet of ambulances.
“I was told initially there were 27 on board who would have been affected so I immediately liaised with the Ambulance and Accident and Emergency services from several areas — from Arima, Sangre Grande, Mt Hope Complex, Port of Spain and St James — and mobilised them for standby in case we had 27 cases to attend to. We were preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best,” Deyalsingh said.
The T&T Guardian was told the crew didn’t sustain injuries.