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    Thursday, April 23, 2009


    In-flight medical emergencies are increasing, and this is partly due to more people with medical conditions traveling by air. It is very important to note that unique environmental and physiological changes occur as a result of changes in pressure during routine commercial air travel. These changes can exacerbate preexisting medical conditions, such as cardiac and lung conditions.

    Passengers should always notify a flight attendant whenever they are having a health problem. Although the flight crew has only very basic training on responding to medical emergencies, they have the ability to communicate via satellite phones to physicians on the ground, and several tele-medical companies routinely assist flight crews during in-flight medical emergencies by providing instructions on what to do. Many times there are medically trained fellow passengers who also readily volunteer to assist whenever the flight crew broadcasts a call for help.

    All U.S–based commercial aircraft that carry more than 85 passengers, and most international air carriers, carry an automated external defibrillator, as well as both a basic and enhanced emergency medical kit. Only medical professionals or flight crew instructed by on-ground physicians are allowed access to the enhanced medical kit, which carries various emergency medications to deal with serious in–flight medical emergencies. The captain of the aircraft has the ultimate authority as to whether or not to divert the aircraft, but they tend to side with caution and what is in the best interest of the stricken passenger.

    Individuals with any cardiac, lung or blood diseases, diabetes or cancer, as well as those who have undergone any surgery within a 14-day period prior to travel, must check with their doctor to make sure they are fit for air travel. As a rule of thumb ,one should be able to walk a distance of 150 feet and climb one flight of stairs without developing any chest pain or severe shortness of breath.

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