Medical Emergencies on Transatlantic Flights

I’ve been asked to write this article by a reader of Flying Fear. If you have a subject you would like me to write about, please contact me.

I wrote an article on medical emergencies a few months ago, and stated that on the average flight the aircraft can land within 30 minutes – and therefore in the event of a medical emergency onboard, professional help is never far away. You can read the original article by clicking here

But, can all flights be on the ground within 30 minutes? No.

Sometimes it can take a little longer, but not a great deal. It may seem that you are hundreds of miles away from any airport when flying over the Atlantic, and you’d be right.

But, aircraft are flying approx 500mph and are probably closer to land than you think. Below is a video of the air traffic worldwide – watch the video and see below for more info….

Note how the main transatlantic routes travel as close to land as possible (this is not for safety reasons – it is just the quickest route!). The video shows the busiest route crossing south of Denmark and Iceland before heading towards the respective European destinations.

But, more importantly, medical equipment onboard long-haul flights is vast and of high quality. For example, most airlines will have defibrillators and the Flight Attendants will be trained in how to use them. There will be plenty of life-saving equipment at the crew’s disposal for use in any medical situation.

Also – and I’ve mentioned this before – 90% of the time, there will be a doctor, paramedic, or nurse onboard to assist in any medical problem. In circumstances where this is not the case, the crew are still highly trained first aiders – and can also get advice from doctors on the ground via radio communications.

In the event of any medical situation onboard, passengers will be given immediate care by highly-trained crew (or medical professionals), and the aircraft will be diverted to the nearest available airport as a priority. Paramedics will meet the aircraft, and the patient will be handed over to them.

Many people fear that there is a lack of help available onboard a flight compared to a cruise ship (for example). In truth, this is not really true. Rest assured that you are in good hands at all times.

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