On June 14, 2017, a man collapsed on the floor of VC Bird International Airport in Antigua. Airport employees rushed to his aid, collected eye-witness accounts of what happened, administered CPR, performed chest compressions, deployed an Automated External Defibrillator, and called Emergency Medical Services, which arrived on the scene within five minutes. Fortunately, the “patient” was actually a simulator and the event was all part of an emergency-preparedness drill led by AUA staff.

The Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority (ABBA) is dedicated to training most of Antigua’s residents in these techniques—an ambitious goal. There are already 25 employees at VC Bird who are certified in responding to cardiac arrest, making the emergency response drill at VC Bird a natural first step in achieving this wider objective. They include pilots, air hostesses, checkpoint staff, and on-the-ground operators. Francine Joseph James is Personal Assistant to the ABAA’s Director of Operations. “I am very impressed by the people who participated. They are very much on board with the training and being a part of the different sessions that AUA has been leading with the airport authority” she said.

All AUA students receive Basic and Advanced Life Support training as part of their Preclinical Sciences requirements at the on-campus American Heart Association™ International Training Center. The center was established in partnership with representatives of the Mayo Clinic. In addition to learning these protocols, they become skilled in airway management, IV management, and electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythm recognition. Emergency code scenarios similar to the drill conducted at VC Bird are included as well.