Medical Emergencies On-Board

Another ‘trigger’ for a fear of flying appears to be the possibility of having a medical emergency during the flight. I’ve had many questions on this subject, so I thought I’d cover it here.

A medical emergency is obviously not a good thing – whether you are airborne or not. Let’s say we have someone suffering a heart attack at home. You obviously call 999 (or the appropriate emergency number for your country!). If you live in a built up area, then you may be lucky to get a paramedic within about 15 minutes. If you live further out, maybe 30 minutes – or more.  

Guess how long it takes to get down on the ground from 38,000ft if someone is having a heart attack?

………..30 minutes MAXIMUM. Guess who is going to be waiting for you on the ground? Paramedics. The cabin crew will inform the pilots of the problem, and they will organise the divert, and ensure that paramedics are called out to meet us.

Just because you are flying, does not mean you are going to have to wait longer for medical assistance. This seems to be what scares many people. They simply do not reralise that the aircraft can get down so quickly.

There are thousands and thousands of airports around the world. There is ALWAYS an airport close enough to land immediately. ALWAYS.

During the quick descent, the cabin crew will be doing everything they can to help. We are all trained in first aid, and have to attend a refresher course every year. We are also tested daily before the flight. If we need to do CPR we are more than capable.

Normal procedure in a medical emergency will involve the crew asking if there are any medical professionals on-board. Not because we can’t cope I must stress, but simply because it makes sense to utilise any doctors etc available.

I have had to ask for assistance from medical professionals twice, and on both occasions there at least two available. You would be very surprised how likely it is that you are travelling with a doctor, paramedic, or a nurse on your flight – I’d estimate 95% of the time!

So, please do not stop flying for this reason. Any medical emergencies will be dealt with just as quickly as they would be on the ground (or probably quicker considering you are being looked after by 4-10 trained first aiders!).

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