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Fri 10 May 2024

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) can confirm that a medical emergency took place at OR Tambo on Wednesday mid-afternoon involving an elderly traveller in the domestic departures area at O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in Johannesburg.

OR Tambo International Airport Regional General Manager Jabu Khambule confirms that two calls were received at 12:09 and 12:10 respectively both reporting a medical emergency at gate E9 domestic departures.

The first call was from the Airlink boarding agent to the ACSA control room on the internal line, and the second was from Mr. Christopher Pappas.

"Paramedics were dispatched and arrived at the scene at 12:16 as per our CCTV footage. The passenger was treated by the paramedics on scene, and at the airport clinic before being referred to ARWYP Medical Centre in Kempton Park," says Khambule.

These facts contradict the version of events posted by Mr. Pappas on X (formerly Twitter), who stated: "Elderly lady experienced serious medical emergency. No staff knew what to do. Emergency phones unanswered. Security guards not helpful. Paramedics took far too long to arrive (sic)."

Mr. Pappas's primary grievance or complaint was a perceived lack of organised, prompt emergency responses and protocols from the staff on duty as well as a lack of training and/or equipping of staff on duty to handle medical emergencies of this nature.

"In response to this claim, we can confirm that the response time under the Service Level Agreement between ACSA and the paramedics is 10 minutes, and this emergency was responded to in seven (7) minutes from the time of the initial call made by the Airlink boarding agent and six (6) minutes from the recorded call of Mr. Pappas. In view of these facts, the airport management team at ORTIA is satisfied that the incident was responded to efficiently and effectively and in line with the protocols and procedures in place," says Khambule.

Furthermore, ACSA remains committed to upholding the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for the safety, efficiency, and regularity of international civil aviation. These global standards and practices address and stress the necessity of effective emergency response planning. To this end, ACSA has contracted the services of a 24/7 medical emergency company charged with response planning and coordination.

Nevertheless, ACSA acknowledges the likely trauma borne by bystanders who witnessed the medical emergency unfold. We would like to apologise to our passengers and customers for any discomfort this may have caused.