This tiny Asiana FA Ji-yeon Kim (left) piggy backed the injured to safety before the plane was engulfed in flames. pic.twitter.com/GEoRtnbVi5
— Marie Valenzuela (@FlyGalz) July 9, 2013
Lisa Wade hails them:
[I’m] surprised to see almost no discussion of the flight attendants’ role in this “miracle.” Consider the top five news stories on Google at the time I’m writing: CNN, Fox, CBS, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today. These articles use passive language to describe the evacuation: “slides had deployed”; all passengers “managed to get off.” When the cabin crew are mentioned, they appear alongside and equivalent to the passengers: the crash forced “dozens of frightened passengers and crew to scamper from the heavily damaged aircraft”; ”passengers and crew were being treated” at local hospitals.
Only one of these five stories, at Fox, acknowledges that the 16 cabin crew members worked through the crash and its aftermath. The story mentions that, while passengers who could were fleeing the plane, crew remained behind to help people who were trapped, slashing seat belts with knives supplied by police officers on the ground. The plane was going up in flames; they risked their lives to save others.
At least one of the 12 flight attendants at the scene carried out an injured child on her back, while others freed trapped colleagues with axes:
[Cabin manager Lee Yoon-hye] herself worked to put out fires and usher passengers to safety despite a broken tailbone that kept her standing throughout a news briefing with mostly South Korean reporters at a San Francisco hotel. She said she didn’t know how badly she was hurt until a doctor at a San Francisco hospital later treated her. … Lee said that after the captain ordered an evacuation, she knew what to do. “I wasn’t really thinking, but my body started carrying out the steps needed for an evacuation,” Lee said. “I was only thinking about rescuing the next passenger.”
Passenger Eugene Anthony Rah took the above photo:
One tiny woman, who he said is flight attendant Kim Ji-yeon, stood out to him, because she was helping the injured, “carrying people piggyback” who couldn’t walk. Tears were streaming down her face, he said, as she helped clear the plane only minutes before flames engulfed the passenger cabin. He copied her name off her uniform name tag, he said, because “she was a hero.”
Update from a reader:
I used to work in the building that housed Virgin Airlines’ main office. One day their future flight attendants were training outside. They were training with their “emergency” voices. Andrew, they had more power and authority in their voices than any movie depiction of a military drill sergeant I have ever seen. They actually scared me! I have never looked at a sweet, polite, gentle airline flight attendant the same after that day, knowing the firm fury that they can unleash should the need arise!