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Travel Health & Safety Blog

MedAire Training Helps Heart Attack Victim In-Flight

Do you ever wonder if your annual MedAire training will be put to the test?

“I didn’t think, I just went into spontaneous reaction mode.” Recently Cindi, a corporate Cabin Attendant, travelling on a commercial airline had an experience most will, hopefully, never be confronted with.

Sitting near the back of the aircraft, Cindi heard a woman in distress over her husband.  Commercial Flight Attendants on duty quickly assessed the situation and called for medical assistance. Cindi continued watching the event unfold two rows in front of her while consoling the victim’s wife who was standing in the aisle.

It was apparent the 61-year-old gentleman was in cardiac arrest, and two nurses on the flight began CPR. Instinctively, Cindi jumped into action directing the flight attendants to get their AED. After retrieving the device, Cindi stood in the row behind allowing the nurses to continue chest compressions. Cindi placed the pads on the victim and turned on the machine.  After analyzing, the machine stated two words you rarely hear outside of training “shock advised.”  Cindi pressed the button, and the shock was administered.

The nurses continued CPR while the AED continued analyzing. Again, the machine again alerted “shock advised,” Cindi administered another shock.  Within seconds of that second shock, the victim gasped and began breathing.

Shortly after landing, paramedics arrived and stabilized the gentleman before he was taken to a nearby hospital.  Later that day, the wife sent a message to those involved with the event to let them know the gentleman was scheduled for surgery and all signs were good.

Without a doubt, the actions of this group on the aircraft, working together, saved this man’s life. Doctors noted he had a 1% chance of surviving this type of event.


  • More than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S., nearly 90% of them fatal
  • Among adults treated by EMS, 25% had no symptoms before the onset of arrest.
  • For every minute that passes without defibrillation, survival decreases by 7 - 10%.
  • If the victim receives defibrillation through an AED within the first minute, the survival rate is 90%.
  • If the AED determines the victim's heart is in ventricular fibrillation, the AED will recommend a defibrillating shock. If a person does not need an AED shock, the AED will not deliver.
  • Among adults treated by EMS, 25% had no symptoms before the onset of arrest.

SOURCE: American Heart Association


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