Emergency Response: “We Had Employees on the Airplane!”

Checklist:  Part III

Every aircraft operator, whether you’re an airline, a charter operator or a company using a bizjet to carry your employees, confronts the prospect of an incident or accident.  One of the certainties of any such event is that your employees, in some way, are going to be involved.  Whether they are the flight crew, cabin crew, deadheading employees or passengers, the considerations associated with how your deal with them and/or the families following the event have a number of unique aspects.

The most important consideration is having an emergency plan which addresses the unique aspects related to dealing with employees following an incident/accident.

As with all emergency response procedures, implementation of the checklist items should begin as quickly as possible upon learning of an event.

 Note:  The following checklist is usable for both fatalities and injuries and is readily susceptible to being adopted for either or both, depending on the accident.

  1. Identify Victims
    • Identify in house contacts for support functions
    • HR
    • Payroll
    • Benefits
    • Communications
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – Get names for direct contact by victims’ families
  2. Identify immediate family members of employees from personnel files or database
    • With dependents:
      •  Names
      • Address(es)
      • Phone number(s)
      • Social security number(s)
      • Life Insurance Beneficiary(ies) – if other than spouse
      • Emergency Contact Information – if other than spouse
    • Without dependents:
      • Emergency Contact Information
      • Beneficiary(ies)
      • Name(s)
      • Address(es)
      • Phone number(s)
      • Social Security number(s)
      • Find out if individual had pets and/or rented an apartment
      • If individual rented, find out if he/she had a roommate
  3. Company representative should notify families in person, if possible. If not, by phone.  Do not use e-mail!
    • Explain the situation
    • Arrange for visits to Employees’ homes
    • Determine and communicate the Company’s immediate position regarding pay and key benefits, such as:
      • Pay continuation for X days
      • Continued Medical Plan Costs
      • Arrange for travel to scene, if appropriate.
  4. Contact Benefits Department to identify all benefits applicable to each victim
  5. Company Representative should notify roommate and/or landlord by phone
  6. Confirm that victims with no one residing with them had no pets/family members needing care
  7. If they had pets, ask family members or friends about boarding/adoption or contact the local humane society to assist with boarding/adoption
  8. HR Representative and/or other Company Representative to meet at the family’s home as soon as possible. The following should be communicated and provided to the family in writing or obtained as applicable. (Note: Family will not be able to, and should not be expected to, absorb any of the information provided during this visit.)
  9. Provide name and number of direct contact at EAP
  10. Provide name and number of company contact and/or vendor contact for
    • Benefits questions
    • Workers’ Compensation
    • Social Security Administration
    • Medical carrier
    • Dental carrier
    • Rx carrier
    • Disability carrier (if applicable)
    • Life insurance carrier
    • Confirm hospital information
    • Confirm insurance coverage
    • If appropriate, address air ambulance arrangement
  11. Inform who will contact them to review benefits available and that they will be assisted in pursuing all benefits available. (Note: Do not try to review benefits at this time unless they have been double-checked and confirmed.)
  12. After determining what the Company will provide, inform the family of company’s decision to pay for other assistance. Examples include:
    • Funeral Expenses
    • Transport of remains, if necessary
    • Transportation of immediate family members, if necessary (e.g. bring parents to be with surviving spouse and children)
    • If necessary, transport family member(s) to site of accident.  Consider taking a more expansive view of what constitutes a “family member.”
  13. After determining what the Company will provide for surviving families with children, inform the families. Examples may include:
    • Dependent Care will be provided, as necessary, up to X days
    • Tuition assistance
    • Mortgage Assistance
    • Housekeeping and yard care – will be provided up to X days
    • Need for relocation – if Employee had been relocated to current location, will provide relocation back to original location for:
      • Household Goods
      • Lease Break
      • Sale of house
      • Purchase of New House
  14. Determine if Direct Deposit should be stopped for employee (This would apply if the family did not have a joint checking account or if there are no surviving family members)
  15. If Direct Deposit is to be stopped, determine to whom paychecks should be made payable
  16. Contact payroll administrator to stop deductions and/or make appropriate changes to pay and benefits
  17. Arrange overnight or personal delivery of paycheck(s), if applicable
  18. If family members do not have spare keys for employees’ cars, contact car dealership to obtain key blank
  19. If victim has no surviving family members, determine to where car should be moved and contact car dealership for key blank
  20. Contact EAP to arrange work-site briefings as needed and get direct contact names at the EAP for victims’ families
  21. At work place:
    • Secure employees’ work area
    • Allow nothing to be moved until wishes of employee/survivors are determined
    • Notify co-workers of situation
    • Assess need for on-site debriefings
    • Schedule debriefings, as needed
    • Debrief supervisors and/or other workers on monitoring co-workers
    • Observe co-workers for difficulty coping
    • Arrange for memory books for co-workers to sign and/or post pictures, poems, thoughts, etc. (give these to the survivors after 90 days)
  22. At accident site, if family members wish to visit:
    • Flowers for family members (be cognizant of individuals’ religious traditions)
    • Car Service
    • Hotel, if necessary
    • Meals charged to hotel bill
    • $X spending money/family for meals and miscellaneous expenses
    • Request no receipts or refund of unspent cash
  23. Contact local Social Security Office to assist families in initiating claims
  24. Review insurance policies, benefits and Company policies that may be applicable:
    • Aircraft Hull
    • Crisis Response
    • General Liability
    • Workers’ Compensation
    • Social Security
    • Business Travel Accident
    • Basic Life
    • Supplemental Life
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment
    • Disability (if applicable)
    • Medical
    • Dental
    • 401(k)
    • Pension Plan
    • Employee Stock Purchase Plan
    • Stock Incentives
    • Employee Discount Programs and other Privileges
    • Company Car
    • Car Allowance
    • Financial Planning Assistance
  25. Provide a summary sheet for each family within a week after the accident. Review in detail after 2 weeks
  26. Find out how remains will be returned and to where
  27. Determine what support will be needed when remains are returned (i.e. counselors, family members, etc.)
  28. Determine need for and offer to provide independent financial planning for survivors, either through EAP or other service
  29. Determine appropriateness of prepaid college fund for surviving children and Company’s willingness to provide
  30. Continue weekly contact with families for a period of time, post incident
  31. Set up contact schedule for families for set periods (e.g. 3, 6 & 12 months out, as well as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and other times important to each specific family)
  32. Consider extending Employee Discount or other privileges to family members during specific time frames
  33. As soon as persona effects are released, engage an independent third party to clean up the items and determine what belongs to whom, if possible. Items that cannot be tied to an individual should be catalogued for families to identify
  34. Additional suggested services/activities for consideration:
    • Set up worksheets of all benefits available for each family. Track progress of benefit payments to ensure timeliness and accuracy.
    • Consider establishing memorial funds
    • Consider establishing distribution formula for contributions to victim memorials that are not specific to an individual
    • Physical memorials
    • Flowers provided for funerals/memorial services
    • Hold memorial service at work place
    • Consider sending small gifts to those who helped, along with thank you notes
    • Thank you notes to those who assisted – all should be sent to specific individuals within the organization, if possible
      • EAP
      • Car Dealership
      • Employees who assisted
      • Rescue Squad
      • Fire Department
      • Red Cross
      • Airlines
      • Hotel
      • Police
      • NTSB Contact
      • Landowner
      • Personal Effects Contractor
      • Contributors to memorial funds
  35. Additional Company Follow-Up Action to Consider:
    • Memorial service on anniversary of event to provide closure to period of mournin
    • Company participation in events with proceeds going to memorial funds (e.g. 10k runs, having friends get sponsors)
    • EAP assistance to company employees who dealt with event and aftermath.

Most companies operating aircraft have some emergency response procedures.  Those procedures and checklists range from extensive to superficial.  Oftentimes, the question of dealing with involved employees is left to the human resources department.  However, as the foregoing checklist suggests, there are, a number of unique aspects associated with injuries/deaths arising from aircraft accidents.

Despite the fact that every eventuality is not foreseeable and each accident presents its own unique challenges, using a checklist provides a safety net for ensuring that the basics are not forgotten.

(Originally posted May 1, 2014)

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply