Researches show that inflight medical emergencies are rare, occurring. On the other hand, if a serious health problem occurs on board, the access to medical care is limited.
While many medical issues can occur during a flight, the most common problems are:
- Heart attack;
- Nausea / vomiting.
Not every medical problem leads to the flight crew declaring a medical emergency. In many cases the flight crew and/or other passengers (e.g. doctors, passengers with medical education and experience) are able to successfully resolve the situation.
Contributing Factors for Passenger Medical Emergencies
Most inflight medical problems can happen due to:
- Stress and anxiety for some people (fear of flying)
- Airplane pressurization;
- Alcohol and low humidity can contribute for dehydration;
- People usually sit, with minimal movement, for long periods of time.
routine should be followed, bearing in mind the specifics of the situation:
Acknowledge the situation and clarify whether an emergency is being declared, obtaining as much information as necessary, like the number of sick passengers, the exact nature of the medical problem or, if the medical problem is not determined, the symptoms being manifested plus any other relevant details of the situation. Determine, as necessary, if the passenger illness is recognized as infectious.
Clarify the intentions of the flight crew; most likely they will choose to land on the nearest suitable aerodrome;
Assist the flight crew by:
Providing a shorter route to the aerodrome chosen;
Providing information on the aerodrome chosen;
Giving priority to the aircraft that has declared an emergency;