The key to clear communications

Training and operational examples prove invaluable as means for handling crises in Europe

Rachel Wood knew she had a different type of crisis communication situation on her hands the day a baby was born prematurely on a First Choice Airways flight. Wood, communication manager for the UK-based airline, had experienced other types of in-flight medical emergencies, but this was something extraordinary that required a cautious, well-thought-out response. The baby weighed only about 500 grams and had survived because the supervising flight attendant helped clear the baby’s lungs using a drinking straw while the flight was diverted back to the UK. But none of these details would be released, at least not initially. “We had to basically ensure that every stakeholder would not go to the media,” Wood said, recalling the crisis situation in April 2007. “The important thing was to make sure everyone who knew about it respected the fact that we had to get the baby though the first few months.”