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Travel Health & Safety Blog

Unlock The Power of Integration

MedAire's Medical Expertise and Digital Assessment Kit


As the aircraft approached the US coast on a routine flight from Paris to Miami, one of the principal passengers reported severe discomfort in the middle of the chest to the flight attendant. The symptom had started a few hours before the flight but subsided spontaneously, only to recur, reaching a state of extreme pain.

The flight attendant immediately grabbed the MedAire Digital Assessment Kit (DAK) and began following the Chest Pain scenario on the iPad. After inputting the symptoms, the DAK indicated that the discomfort level reached 8/10 on the pain scale and that besides the dull pressure sensation in the middle of the chest, there was also some radiation of the pain to the jaw and left arm.

Using the electronic BP cuff in the kit, the flight attendant took a blood pressure reading of 148 over 90. Next, the pulse oximeter was applied, showing a reading of 89%, a heart rate of 86 bpm, and a respiratory rate of 16 breaths per minute. The case summary was immediately transmitted to MedAire's MedLink, and a voice connection was established.

The information was received at MedAire's MedLink and gave the doctor a highly suggestive picture of a typical heart attack. The MedLink doctor immediately recommended that the passenger take a tablet of aspirin as per routine procedure under those circumstances. At the same time, the doctor requested an ECG (EKG) be obtained.

The flight attendant followed the step-by-step instructions offered by the In-Flight App on how to place the electrodes. The 12-lead ECG in the kit features a large torso-sized sticker making it easy for the crewmember to apply it correctly to the passenger. The tracing was received at MedAire's MedLink, leaving no margin for doubt. The classic aspect of myocardial infarction (heart attack) was evident, and the need for immediate hospitalization was imperative. With three hours remaining on the flight until MIA, time was of the essence.

The information on blood pressure allowed the doctor to recommend medication inside the kit. After discussing the situation with the pilot, Boston appeared to be the best alternative airport, and a diversion was undertaken - MedLink made coordination for EMS to be present upon the aircraft landing. A copy of the ECG tracing was forwarded to the EMS, who, in turn, sent it to the potential receiving hospitals to expedite the final treatment procedure.

Two hours after the call began in-flight, the passenger underwent an angioplasty and stent placement, treating the life-threatening obstruction in their coronary artery. The treating doctor at the hospital was impressed with the correct sequence of events, which is sometimes not achieved even in cases occurring on the ground.

"Denial is a major reason for delays in getting medical attention in heart attack cases," states Dr Paulo Alves, MedAire's medical director. "When dealing with myocardial infarction, any unnecessary delay in getting proper care implies the death of heart muscle, which could be not only immediately life-threatening but also severely compromise the quality of life of survivors. Therefore, the perfect coordination, starting by correctly assessing what is going on, is crucial for the best outcomes."

In conclusion, this success story highlights the importance of expert medical care and the latest technology in ensuring the best possible outcomes during in-flight medical emergencies. MedAire's Digital Assessment Kit, along with the expertise of their MedLink team, enabled the flight attendant to assess the passenger’s condition and receive immediate guidance from the ground quickly and accurately. In addition, the seamless coordination with EMS and the receiving hospital ensured that the passenger received timely and life-saving treatment. Integrating expert medical care and the latest technology is crucial in ensuring the highest quality of care during in-flight medical emergencies.

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Business and General Aviation Aviation Airlines