Passengers on the plane fainted, ate breakfast, broke bones, and had heart attacks. One woman even gave birth to twins, one in the air and one on the ground. Recently, a passenger He suffered a severe allergic reactionwhich renewed calls for EpiPens to be used on commercial flights.
How cabin crew and first aid kits can save your life on board?
by cestlafranz.com ·
Any medical crisis is worrying, but even more so when you’re away from the hospital. But airlines are prepared for urgent care cases, no matter how serious. Flight attendants are trained in basic first aid, CPR, and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and they have medical kits full of supplies at their disposal (but not everything is on a doctor’s wish list).
The cabin crew can also consult with medically certified professionals – volunteers on board or doctors affiliated with an advisory service on the ground. (Think of “succession.”) A passenger’s recovery, and in extreme cases, survival, depends on these high-altitude clinics.
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“The planes have planned ahead for these emergencies,” said Carl Hess, chair of the pharmacists’ professional group at the International Society of Travel Medicine. “(Very rarely) does the plane need to be diverted, does the person need to be hospitalized on landing or does the individual actually die.”
Here’s how a medical kit and flight crew on board can save your life.
Medical issue #1 on airplanes
Considering the number of millions of people who fly every day, medical issues that arise during a flight are rare. Dire conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes, are less common.
“We prefer to call them events rather than emergencies, because most of them are manageable,” said Paulo Alves, global medical director of aviation health at MedAire, which provides ground medical support to more than 180 domestic and international airlines. “They are not true life-threatening emergencies. Less than 2% are considered serious enough to divert an aircraft.
In a 2013 study titled “Outcomes of medical emergencies on commercial flights,” researchers analyzed emergency medical data from five domestic and international airlines between January 2008 and October 2010. They found that medical problems occurred on 1 out of 604 flights. The first problem was fainting, syncope, or syncope, followed by respiratory problems and nausea or vomiting.
Alves said fainting can be triggered by fear of flying, excessive drinking or exhaustion. He added that the treatment is to lie down with your feet elevated and rest.
What is in the first aid kit on the plane
For illnesses or injuries requiring medication or medical equipment, flight attendants open first aid kits or emergency medical kits, both of which are authorized by the FAA.
Since 1986, the agency has required airlines to carry an emergency medical kit and has modified its rules over the years. The FAA, which seeks advice from the Aerospace Medical Association, has compiled a minimum checklist of items covering major areas of medicine, such as respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological. For example, there are bandages and splints for wounds and damaged limbs, aspirin and painkillers for headaches and pain, antihistamines for allergies, dextrose for lack of fluids or carbohydrates, and an AED for sudden cardiac arrest. There are also basic supplies such as syringes, needles, bandages, tape, alcohol sponges, and scissors.
“Sometimes the equipment isn’t state of the art,” says Clayton T. Caul, MD, a pulmonologist and space medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “It’s not like calling the paramedic or EMT to get the latest and greatest items.”
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Most carriers supply their kits with additional medications and paraphernalia, a decision that does not require FAA approval. Last summer, Delta Airlines introduced several advanced diagnostic tools, including automated blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, pulse oximeters, and a temporal thermometer. Boston doctor Andrea Merrill criticized the airline’s medical rulings on Twitter after she assisted an emergency case on a flight to Portugal.
“The group was completely stripped down, which surprised me,” said a surgical oncologist who volunteered to help a passenger who passed out a few hours into the flight. “You would think they’d have a higher-quality kit up in the air, where you’re so far away from medical help.”
my dear @deltaYou just helped with an air medical emergency. Your medical kits need a blood glucose meter, epinephrine pen, and automatic blood pressure cuffs—impossible to hear with a disposable stethoscope in mid-air. Please improve this for passenger safety!
– Andrea Merrill, MD, FACS (@AndreaLMerrill) June 12, 2022
There is a particularly notable absence in the aviation emergency kit: EpiPens. Although planes must carry epinephrine and syringes, medical organizations urge the FAA to require planes to carry an auto-injector, a life-saving allergy treatment device.
“We’ve recommended the EpiPen for many years because it’s easier to use,” Alves said.
Last month, Lindsey Olin, a physician in Boston, suffered an anaphylactic reaction on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Austin. “I’m only alive today because another doctor on board figured out how to safely give me the EV in your kit,” she tweeted, calling on carriers to add the device to their kits.
In 2018, the agency asked the Aerospace Medical Society to evaluate the emergency medical and first aid kit and share suggestions on how to improve or update its contents. Etihad’s Committee on Air Transport Medicine (Alvis was its task force leader) suggested the autoinjector in its guidance document, which it submitted to the FAA in 2019.
The agency said it was still reviewing the group’s recommendations and that any changes to crews would involve a “rule-making process”.
Do not fly when you are sick or have symptoms
Some in-flight medical emergencies can be prevented, especially if you listen to your body before boarding. Obviously, if you’re sniffling or coughing, make sure you’re healthy enough to travel and won’t spread your disease. Although airlines no longer require the wearing of masks, the use of face coverings can protect yourself and others.
Flying while sick can make you feel worse. Caul said travelers with sinus infections may experience the “worst headache of their lives” due to pressure trapped in the eardrum.
And just as important, don’t ignore or ignore even the slightest symptoms. In extreme cases, the “pre-departure nerves” could actually be a heart condition.
“The initial symptoms are not very obvious, and we ignore them,” Alves said. “Our last case was a massive heart attack. He had been diagnosed with anxiety over the previous months and interpreted the symptoms as anxiety.
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Passengers with pre-existing illnesses or who have recently undergone surgical treatment should also exercise caution when traveling by air. Lower barometric pressure at higher altitudes, Kaul said, can exacerbate chest pain or trigger a heart attack in passengers with active angina. Gas expands when ascending, which can lead to postoperative complications.
Holiday activities on land and at sea can also lead to medical emergencies in the air. For example, divers who do not wait at least 24 hours before flying can develop the bows, or decompression sickness. Hikers or motorcyclists who fracture a rib and puncture a lung during a severe stumble may be at risk of tension pneumothorax, a potentially fatal condition.
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“Just don’t show up,” Cole said. “Think about the potential health risks that exist.”
You can also take precautions while flying. To avoid blood clots and other potential medical crises, hydrate yourself with water (not caffeinated, sugary, or alcoholic beverages), stretch your legs, and wiggle your toes every few hours. And don’t forget to put your medications in your carry-on bag, not in your checked baggage.
What can a flight attendant do in an emergency?
If you start to feel unwell, alert the flight attendant immediately. Your condition could resolve itself — or worsen rapidly.
Flight attendants will assess the situation by asking the passenger to describe the symptoms, assuming they are clear and aware. Depending on the situation, they will provide care themselves or consult with a medical professional on board or on the ground.
The cowl provided assistance above and below the clouds. One of his most memorable cases occurred nearly 20 years ago, when he was a member of the Mayo Clinic team providing on-the-ground counseling. A passenger smuggled a monkey onto a New York-bound flight. The wild animal escaped and scratched many of the passengers, possibly infecting them. Health authorities eventually determined that the monkey did not have rabies, though the travelers were left hanging for several harrowing hours in a medical deadbolt.
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On the ship, licensed medical practitioners who respond to the crew’s request for assistance are permitted to treat the patient and prescribe medication. Good Samaritans are protected under the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998.
Flight attendants can also contact doctors through a medical advisory service such as MedAire or MedLink. Prescription medications approved by these doctors can be dispensed by flight crew, who provide advice via communication devices such as satellite phone, radio or app. The team of medical and aviation experts will also determine whether the pilot should redirect the plane to the nearest hospital or continue on course, according to Alves.
“They’re turning less and less without taking any risks,” he added.