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Sure, flight attendants bring you pretzels. They can also save your life.

Laughter and squeals (and yes, a few excited screams) erupt in this cavernous building on Decatur Boulevard on a recent Tuesday evening. But this isn’t a playground or parkour gym. It’s a high-tech facility where Allegiant Airlines flight attendant trainees are practicing a plane evacuation. All the giggles aside, airline safety training is serious business; flight attendants are schooled in so much more than passing out bags of pretzels and dispensing pillows. In Allegiant’s intensive, five-week course, trainees learn how to stabilize a heart-attack victim, evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds, defend against physical threats, and more. “They’re the first responders of the sky,” says Jay Lee, director of in-flight training, standards, and compliance for Allegiant. Allegiant employs 1,200 flight attendants, including the 200 it hired this year. All new hires go through this course; after that, they take an annual refresher.

“It was fun, it was intense!” says trainee Kareena Goodwin after performing the slide-jump drill. But her enthusiasm isn’t just from an adrenaline high. Goodwin and her 34 classmates are set to graduate next week and subsequently receive official certification from the FAA.

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“I’m just as ready to put out a fire and evacuate an aircraft as I am to pour a Coke,” Goodwin says. “We’re firefighters, we’re doctors, we’re nurses, we’re babysitters. It’s way more than what people think.”

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