How Airlines Deal With Midair Medical Emergencies

It’s one of the scariest things that can happen aboard a flight, but medical emergencies never occur at convenient times. When somebody falls ill, experiences an injury, or goes into labour, most airline staff are trained to react swiftly. Here’s a few ways airlines deal with medical emergencies during a flight.

Cabin crew are first aid trained

If a medical incident occurs on a flight, you may not hear, ‘Is there a doctor on board?’ come across the loudspeakers – most cabin staff are trained to handle a variety of health concerns. Emirates puts particular emphasis on this training; their staff are inducted into the ranks with theoretical and practical training so that they can provide adequate care. This training includes basic life support, trauma, heart conditions, emergency labour, asthma, seizures, and anaphylactic reactions.

Equipment on board

Most planes are fitted with a medical kit, including first aid implements, oxygen bottles, defibrillators, resuscitators, and a telemedicine unit. Emirates also connect cabin crew to a 24/7 satellite medical advisory service so that they can receive live advice from a medical professional on the ground. This is either in a radio capacity, or via video link, and the patient’s vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) can be transmitted to the doctor on the ground, enabling them to make the most appropriate recommendations.

And if the worst should happen…

Deaths on flights are not common, fortunately, but it’s a scenario all cabin crew are trained to handle. The main priority is to ensure all lifesaving measures are taken; as cabin crew are not medical professionals, they are legally not able to call a time of death. However, if the passenger is beyond recovery, airlines have different ways of handling the situation. If over land, the plane will be diverted to the nearest airport. If over water, the passenger’s body will be laid across an empty row of seats and covered with a blanket. Even though it is a traumatic experience, cabin crew are trained to return to their duties and ensure other passengers remain calm for the duration of their trips.

Fortunately, medical emergencies are not common, but it’s reassuring to know that airlines have procedures in place to care for passengers who experience an illness, injury, or other medical condition whilst on a flight – with planes designed to equip staff with the tools and facilities they require. Talk to Airport Metals about our relationship with plane designs today.