Heart emergency measures need to be better on planes according to doctors.
Although the event of cardiac arrest on board flights is rare, airlines are being called upon to carry more medical equipment focused on this issue.
About 1,000 people a year die from cardiac arrest in the air, according to data presented at a medical meeting in Geneva. However, even though only 1% of all in air emergencies are heart related, they can have serious repercussions. Doctors led by Prof Jochen Hinkelbein of the University of Cologne, Germany, and president of the German Society for Aerospace Medicine, have drawn up new proposals for cardiac arrest on plane journeys. They include:
• Aircraft crew must ask for help as soon as possible by an onboard announcement after identification of a patient with cardiac arrest. The announcement should state there has been a suspected cardiac arrest and also the location of the emergency equipment.
• The plane should be immediately diverted if necessary
• All planes to carry an ECG and automated external defibrillator (AED)
• Two-person cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed if possible and the crew should be trained regularly in basic life support
Medics are also looking at creating protocols regarding heart emergency measures of people in space.
CPR is very hard to perform in microgravity. For example, the person may float away from the person trying to administer CPR. Or, the lack of gravity will make it difficult to get a solid grounding to perform it. Other challenges of providing medical treatment in space include strict limits on the amount of medical equipment that can be carried on a mission. Casualties may have to be cared for by other crew members with little formal medical training. Prof Hinkelbein said:
“In the context of future space exploration, the longer duration of missions, and the consecutively higher risk of an incident requiring resuscitation increase the importance of microgravity-appropriate medical techniques,”
Dr Matthieu Komorowski, consultant in intensive care and anaesthesia at Charing Cross Hospital, adds:
“Space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars are planned in the coming years,”
“During these long-duration flights, the estimated risk of severe medical and surgical events, as well as the risk of loss of crew life, are significant.”
The first step in this will be changing the heart emergency measures of the aircraft within our atmosphere.
The doctors will be contacting individual airlines directly and also asking them to incorporate the guidelines into their emergency procedures. Prof Hinkelbein says:
“This is the first guideline providing specific treatment recommendations for in-flight medical emergencies during commercial air travel.
“This is of major importance to recommend proper actions and procedures since the airplane environment as well as equipment will be significantly different to what can be provided for medical emergencies on the ground.”
What are your thoughts? Do you think we need more heart emergency measures on our planes? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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