Is there a doctor on the plane?
When youre at 30,000 feet, the world seems very far away. You cant even see people, cars and buses look like ants and structures remind of you miniscule doll houses. Youre very far away from safety and civilization. And your world can come crashing down if you or another passenger has a medical emergency on the plane. Thats the last thing you want when youre so high up in the air! Dont worry though. Were here to tell you what you need to know about medical emergencies on an airplane
1. How common are medical emergencies on airplanes?
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013, medical emergencies can happen in one out every 604 flights. Mostly, these emergencies are handled smoothly within the plane as only 7 percent of the flights are diverted. So, you can be rest assured that there isnt much to be worried about.
2. What are the most common medical emergencies during flights?
Most of the emergencies involve passing out or fainting, medically called syncope. Respiratory symptoms and vomiting are the other types of emergencies common on an airplane. Heart symptoms can also occur in patients who have a pre-existing condition. However, cardiac arrests are the most common cause of death on planes. If you suffer from heart problems, please ask your doctor beforehand if you are healthy enough to endure a long flight.
3. How quickly can you get help if you get sick?
Thankfully, all planes are equipped with first aid kits that have a stethoscope, CPR masks, needles and syringes, aspirin, epinephrine and other medications. Usually, these are enough to take care of the ill passenger. Flight attendants are also trained in CPR and know how to use defibrillators. If there is any sort of danger to the patients life, the plane can be diverted. Still, it is wise for you to carry basic medication in case of emergencies.
4. What can you expect to happen if youre having a medical emergency?
Heres what is going to happen if you have a medical emergency on the plane. You will be asked about your medical problem, your symptoms and how long youve suffered from the problem. Your pulse and blood pressure will be checked. You may receive oxygen, medication or IV fluids depending on your problem. The airline personnel will coordinate with a ground team to transfer your care once youve landed.
5. What happens when there is no doctor on board?
If youre lucky, there will be a doctor on the same plane as you. But even if there isnt, airline personnel can call doctors or healthcare institutions on the ground for real-time advice on how to handle the medical emergency.
6. Can you provide help to the passenger if youre a doctor?
Sure. But if youre drunk, sleepy or inattentive, its best if you dont. You might be a great care-provider on land but the situation is very different on a plane: limited space and an acute lack of equipment can set you back. But if you think that you can help the patient, please step up! If youre worried about liabilities, healthcare professionals and even passengers who volunteer for emergencies are legally protected by the Aviation Medical Assistance Acts Good Samaritan provision in the US.
If you or another fellow passenger has a medical emergency on the plane, dont panic. In all probabilities, the emergency will be handled efficiently on the plane and once youre on the ground, you can get yourself checked up again. So fly like theres no tomorrow!