Flight Attendant’s Perspective on the Medical Professional’s Presence During In-Flight Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
About 95% of the two billion airlines passengers suffered from health issues (1). Furthermore, a call center in North Carolina noted that there were 16 in-flight emergency cases for every 1 million airlines passengers (2). Cardiac arrest is one of these cases, which is a cause for mortality for about 1000 people during the flights (3). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be demonstrated by the medical professionals or trained people such as flight attendants. Commercial flights usually do not have official medical staffs on board. Hence, whenever there are in-flight medical emergency cases, flight attendants should be trained to manage such cases. Flight attendants themselves are laymen who are trained to do basic medical emergency interventions, that is, even if they intervene in such cases, they cannot take an appropriate decision as the medical professionals.
During in-flight cardiac arrest, the flight attendants are mainly responsible to immediately contact the ground staff and voluntary medical professionals on board; besides, they also have a right to perform CPR (4). Certain airlines such as Air Canada and Scandinavian Airlines have policies related to medical supervision. They apply emergency telemedicine that involves emergency specialists as the commander (5). Furthermore, the specialists will assign some instructions for the flight attendants who manage the in-flight medical emergencies (5). In contrast, in Indonesia, in case of any in-flight medical emergency, the flight attendants would announce on call asking for the presence of any medical professionals on board; however, no official medical professionals are recruited on board by the airlines for any medical casualties or emergency.
Attendant expressed that the rescuer had many senses while helping people with in-flight medical emergency like shocked while looking at the victim. Contrary, the rescuer also determined to take her responsibility as a cabin crew by helping the victim. Furthermore, she had to manage her dilemma before doing that.
The flight attendant has already expressed her suggestion on having in-flight medical professionals so that she can focus on her responsibility as a cabin crew. NBAA (2016) declares that commercial airlines are suggested to make policies that involve medical professionals in managing in-flight medical emergency (6). These will make flight attendants feel comfortable in serving the passengers. Consequently, the flight attendant needs medical companionship while performing CPR on board. Hence, in-flight medical emergency management, which is part of prehospital management, can be guaranteed
2. Peterson D, Martin-Gill C, Guyette F, Tobias A, McCarthy C, Harrington S, et al. Outcomes of medical emergencies on commercial airline flights. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(22):2075-83.
3. Charles R. Cardiac arrest in the skies. Singapore Med J. 2011;52(8):582-5.
4. Smith L. An otolaryngologist's experience with in-flight commercial airline medical emergencies: three case reports and literature review. Am J Otolaryngol. 2008;29(5):346-51.
5. Lateef F, Tay C, Nimbkar N. Is there a doctor on-board?: medical liability during in-flight emergencies. Hong Kong J Emerg Med. 2003;10:191-6.
6. NBAA. Medical emergencies: Managing in-flight medical events 2016.