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Expert: How Authorities Deal With A Plane Full Of Sick Passengers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - When a plane from Dubai landed at JFK Airport and was held away from the terminal after several passengers fell sick, one expert described the scene as textbook procedure for such emergencies.

Emirates Flight 203, an Airbus A380, arrived at Terminal 4 on Wednesday morning and was met by the Centers for Disease Control and Port Authority police.

Kenneth D. Honig, a former police inspector and commanding officer for JFK and LaGuardia Airports at Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, spoke to CBS2's Mary Calvi about keeping people informed and avoiding panic.

"The Port Authority - along with the city agencies, the state Health Department and the CDC - have been practicing for decades," she said. "I was involved in a number of exercises when I was at the Port Authority police where we would practice what would happen if we had someone ill come in on an airplane, or a large number of ill people come in on an airplane, and how we would deal with that.

"They seemed to have handled it exactly the way we had planned in exercise: The airplane is brought to a remote area, passengers are kept informed, medical personnel come on and interview and then evaluate the people who are sick and the people who are worried about getting sick," said Hovig.

"All the people are given instructions on how they can take care of themselves and what to do should they develop symptoms down the road," he said.

Following interviews and inspections of passengers and crew, 10 people were taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment while nine others who showed symptoms refused medical treatment.

The exact cause of the sickness was not immediately known. The airline blamed food poisoning, while others described sick passengers being allowed on board in Dubai.

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