Featured Partner MedAire:

Practice, Prepare and Plan – Six Tips for a Safe Journey

by Dr. Paulo Alves, MedAire Global Medical Director

MedAire-DT-INBM-354 loAt any given moment, there are 1 to 4 million people in flight. This is same population as some of the largest cities around the world. And like those cities, medical emergencies happen every day.

Every year, there are more than 30,000 in-flight medical events. Only a small percentage of these events become life-threatening or fatal, and most can be resolved in the air. Their impact to your successful mission, however, can be catastrophic.

The most important thing we must do as aviators is practice and train for many possible scenarios we may face on our mission. The repetition of training imprints the mitigation steps into our minds, so we can react quickly and calmly to emergencies.

The same can be said for how we mitigate medical emergencies. Beyond data points like weather, runway size or FBO services, include contingencies for medical or security factors that could arise while in-flight or at your destination. Establishing best practices for risk mitigation can help prevent these medical situations from escalating.

MedAire recommends the following tips to help you practice, prepare and plan for your next mission:

  1. Plan for many possible outcomes. Many factors can impact your mission beyond medical incidents, such as natural disasters, civil unrest and even traffic accidents that can delay medical care once on the ground.
  2. For every destination understand the local medical services available. Get the directions from ports of entry to facilities like hospitals, police stations or embassies.
  3. For regular and routine missions, gather the most information on the destination and preferred points of diversion along those flight plans and keep a library of this content. From time to time, conduct a drill scenario and test the resources you have against the risk factors in your drill.
  4. Crew members should be trained annually on aircraft emergency and medical emergency mitigation skills so they can respond when needed.
  5. Frequent passengers should train on first-responder techniques and basic emergency procedures, so they can help in the event there is a need. They will appreciate feeling empowered in a high-pressure situation.
  6. Check safety equipment for expiration dates and refurbishment need. Have backups in case something is missing or broken.

MedLink_ActiveCalls_CSEs loAfter establishing the best practices that work for your needs, make sure everyone on your team understands the resources available to them from free and open sources or paid solution providers. Test the capabilities of these resources and use them to their fullest ability. You are responsible for the continuity of the mission to get the aircraft and passengers back home safely. Give yourself the best tools to achieve it.

MedAire, an International SOS company, has over 30 years of aviation experience, providing expert medical and security assistance in-flight and on the ground.