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During in-flight emergencies, airlines’ medical kits can fall short

In March, a Frontier Airlines flight was headed from Phoenix to Las Vegas when a female passenger stopped breathing. The flight attendant yelled in the cabin for help. A passenger who was trained as a wilderness first responder, Seth Coley, jumped into action and found the woman was unresponsive and had a weak pulse. ( More...

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Charles Mattina 3
As a cardiologist, I have always responded to any call for a doctor and in the several times I have done so fortunately none were serious. I know of colleagues not being allowed to attend the passenger in trouble until they could prove they were in fact doctors, so I started carrying a copy of my medical license on trips! EMTs have also told me of people coming up to take charge claiming to be doctors who were not, so it is not quite a clear cut issue. The number of instruments or meds that might be needed is extensive, and I agree the basics should include at least an automatic BP monitor, good stethoscope (not the one found in playsets), epipen and sadly in this day and age Narcan.
Randall Bursk 2
Every flight I worked had required medical kits, trained crew, 24/7 communication with dispatch. Who had access to medical personnel available on a conference call to talk to all parties involved. Over the North Atlantic to Europe, South America, to Asia. Knew where the best Alternate airport is located for medical emergency, best hospital. Our airline had different categories of medical equipment on board. AED’s on all planes. Whenever a kit was opened and used, an entry was put into maintenance logbook. Taken care of at destination. If required equipment isn’t on board or missing items, no go item until replaced.
Thank the individual on this flight, but I think some details could be missing from the story. Have more problems with passengers who don’t bring required medicine with them in the cabin. It’s checked. Having access to ground based medical has eliminated majority of medical diversions that were not necessary. No part of commercial aviation ever worried me. Fear comes from lack of knowledge or understanding of what flying is about. Had a course for fearful flyers. Ground school was instructor’s from maintenance, pilot’s, flight attendants, etc. Graduation flight local to the airport. Good flights.
Randall Bursk 1
Crew responsibility to check required equipment on originating flights, or crew change. All flights need their medical oxygen. Using it up, find out you don’t have it would be consideration for stopping short of destination. Crews are greatful to have help from qualified medical professionals. In person diagnosis can be faster than communicating with a ground based doctor. Some cases have the doctor on the flight talking to the doctor on the ground. We use resources that are available to us. Jill, thank you for your story.
todd sanbury 1
“It’s interesting to me that the airlines really kind of depend on the kindness of strangers in a lot of ways, much more so than I would think,” ....This should surprise NO ONE. Airline bean counters make the decisions, not the executives. This is a "freebie" for the Airlines, and the cost for a FULL MEDKIT is not a monstrous cost. Instead, they opt for the "what can we get away with" and rely on the good-citizen to cover their shortcomings.
Jill Renshaw 1
I was flying back from Vegas on an AA flight. Soon after takeoff the FA asked if a dr was on board. The gentleman sitting next to me was an EMT. Right in front of us was where they stored the oxygen canisters. There were several. The FA kept coming back to get a new one. Concerned there was a serious condition, the EMT alerted the FA of his credentials. He asked if they needed help because FA kept coming back for oxygen. She said she kept getting another was because they were mostly empty.
I couldn't breathe on vacation in Indonesia and Cathy Pacific supplied me with oxygen on the flight Jakarta - Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Toronto, the aircrew loved the chance to practice on me.
I couldn't breathe on vacation in Indonesia and Cathy Pacific supplied me with oxygen on the flight Jakarta - Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Toronto, the aircrew loved the chance to train and practice on me.
Doug Zalud 1
Whenever I fly, I will tell the flight crew at the beginning of the flight that I am a paramedic. If I'm not in my seat, I will provide them with my seat location so that they can come and get me. This seems to always be met with a big smile, and a thank you.

By letting them know before an emergency happens, it seems to eliminate the need to provide ID that could possibly delay needed treatment.


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