Contents of in flight Emergency Medical Kits (you may not have all of this available)
Airway and Breathing
Bag-valve masks (3 sizes)
CPR masks (3 sizes)
Intravenous administration set
Saline solution, 500 ml
- Introduce yourself and state your medical qualifications.
- Ask the passenger for permission to treat, if feasible.
- Request access to the medical kit.
- Use a language interpreter, if necessary, but be aware of patient privacy.
- Focused history and physical examination, obtain vital signs.
- Administer treatments within the scope of your qualifications.
- Recommend diversion of the flight if the patient’s medical condition is critical.
- Communicate and coordinate with ground-based medical resources.
- Continue to provide care until the emergency medical condition is stabilized or care is transferred to other qualified medical personnel.
- Document the patient encounter.
For the most of them, you would be providing only the basic and common sense care. If it is really getting out of control, get diverted and land ASAP to the nearest airport where reasonable medical care would be available. They key is to stick to the basics and don't forget that there are major restrictions in terms of the kind of stuff that you can do in a hospital.
- Syncope (rule out hypoglycaemia, lay flat and elevate the legs, fluids if needed)
- ACS (O2, Aspirin, Nitrates, Reassure)
- Cardiac Arrest (Chest Compressions, Shock, Ice)
- Dyspnea (O2, beta 2 agonists, needle decompression)
- Stroke (No Aspirin in a suspected stroke, rule out hypoglycaemia)
- Seizures (Left lateral position, O2, rule out hypoglycaemia)
- Psych (Calm them and Restrain them)
- Minor trauma (Immobilze, cold compresses, Analgesics)
We (a physician and two nurses) got braced up for this and literally rushed to the aircraft with the resuscitation kit. And as we reached there, I entered the aircraft, it was packed with 180 passengers and they all were staring at me hoping that I would fix this man's problem. I heard people mumbling, Oh..the doctor is here... (sigh of relief for them and it was horrifying for me, imagine 180 strangers who are going to observe/film the scenario).
- Introduce yourself, ask for their permission to treat
- Know what is the usual equipment available
- Stick to the basics and know your limitations
Nable, Jose V., et al. "In-Flight Medical Emergencies during Commercial Travel." New England Journal of Medicine 373.10 (2015): 939-945.