All of our patients are carefully screened prior to traveling to or from treatment to ensure they are safe to travel. Despite this screening, many patients ask questions about the what ifs in attempt to get the whole picture and be prepared just in case.
If a medical emergency occurs in flight there are protocols in place to handle a variety of situations. Aircrafts carry on them enhanced emergency medical kits or EEMKs. These medical kits are intended to provide the necessary medical supplies to deal with simple medical problems all the way to life-threatening problems.
Flight crews are trained to deal with all sorts of emergencies, including medical ones. The medical decisions are made by the support of a radio or satellite phone that connects those on the flight to a specially trained physician on the ground. Together the trained on board crew and the physician attempt to stabilize the patient and begin to address the question of whether or not they need to divert the flight. In most cases they are able to stabilize the patient and continue on route, but where necessary the captain can make arrangements to divert the path and land the plane to get the patient to a hospital. Acute medical care is then quickly available as a medical team meet the patient and the plane at the nearest available airport.
There may also be medical professionals on the flight who respond to the crew’s request for assistance. Their participation can also be very valuable.