Air Emergencies


Forum Lurker
I did indeed 'steal' this idea from another thread, but...

Have you ever been in an airplane and over the PA you hear, "Is there a Doctor on board?"

-Have you ever 'gotten up?' -even though you're not a 'doctor'

-What do you all know about EMS equipment on commercial airplanes? I've read/heard they have some ALS equipment (IV, meds, tubes), but I don't think flight-attendant school involves ALS


Ops Paramedic

Forum Captain
I also read and posted to the thread that you are refering to...

Once again, the Captain of the aircraft is ultimately the one who carries responsibility for all the people on board, although he might not always be accountable. Another important point is that as long as you remain within the aircraft, even though you might have landed in another country,you are considered to on the soil of country in which the aircraft is registered in. This can open a whole new can of worms with regards to protocols, guidelines, religious believes, etc..

Just to shead some light. I watched a documentary on a airplane crash whereby the left engine had malfuntioned and as a result sparks came flying out. The passengers and flight attendend saw it. The captain on the other hand, for some reason (Could not visualize the sparks from where he was) thought that the problem was with the right engine and subsequently switched it off, and informed the passengers via the intercom. The passengers found it strange, but said nothing as he is the captain and knows what is going on and the vibration had stopped. There was only one way communication amungst the three parties. The end result was that plane crashed and people died (?79 or something) with the runway clearly visible from the crash site. The investigation ruled that should there have communication between the various parties, the disaster would have been avoided.

It was subsequently implemented that anything out of the ordinary should be communicated through to the pilot. So, If they ask for a doctor, it would make sense to identify yourself to the flight attendent as an EMT, can i maybe help you?? I believe there is medical kit on board, what exactly it consist of, i am not sure, but i think it fairly basic & a AED. The best would be to make do with what you have and what you know. Consult with the pilot (Should you be the highest medically qualified with proof, as they might request proof) and make a decision as to turn around or carry on, which ever will be in the best interest of the patient.

Good luck!!


Forum Deputy Chief
In that situation I would definitely identify myself as an EMT. What's the worst case scenario? They tell you they don't need your assistance? Even if there was a doctor on board he could be a psychiatrist or a dermatologist and therefore probably less qualified to treat an acutely ill or injured person than an EMT.

I called up my mom to ask about this because she's a flight attendant for United Airlines. She told me that all flight attendants are trained annually in AED, oxygen use, CPR, and first aid. There is an AED on every United plane, and I bet all of the other major carriers have AEDs on all of their planes too.

There are always at least two basic first aid kits on the planes, mainly for use by the flight attendants. Those kits just contain the first aid basics.

There is another kit that is kept in the cockpit. She said only doctors, paramedics, and RNs are allowed to use it because it does contain drugs like atropine, epi, glucagon, lidocaine, lasix, narcan, D50%, etc. The special advanced kit also contains equipment for IVs, urinary catheters, OPAs, a BP cuff and a stethoscope.

She said that there is oxygen in the cockpit, first class, at various points in the plane in overhead bins, and in the back.

She also told me that once a flight attendant starts using an AED on a person they are not allowed to turn that responsibility over to anyone else, not even if that person is a doctor.

She also said that CPR must be continued on someone regardless of their apparent condition until landing.

Now these are just relevant to United but I think it's extremely likely that most major airlines have very similar if not identical procedures and supplies available.

This company sells medical kits for commercial airlines.

The FAA requires that any plane of more than 19 seats must have the following equipment as a minimum:

-16 adhesive bandage compresses
-20 antiseptic swabs
-10 ammonia inhalants
-8 bandage compresses
-5 triangular bandages
-1 noninflatable arm splint
-1 noninflatable leg splint
-4 roller bandages
-2 rolls of adhesive tape
-1 pair of bandage scissors
-1 pair of protective nonpermeable gloves
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