Award winning airline carrier Emirates has invested more than US$ 6 million in the installation and service of medical equipment on board its air fleet, as well as in the training of its crew to deal with medical emergencies.

During 2014, Emirates delivered a total of 33,430 hours of medical training for cabin crew and pilots. This includes a comprehensive initial training programme, which is required by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, as well as additional specific training for the use of on board medical equipment.

The training prepares crew to provide emergency medical attention for different situations, and includes topics such as basic life support (CPR); medical conditions including asthma, heart disorders, seizures and allergic reactions; trauma-related topics and even emergency childbirth, amongst others. Pilots also attend training sessions covering topics such as Hypoxia, Malaria, Dengue, Trauma, CPR and choking and occupational health issues.

On the rare occasion a medical diversion is required, after informing the pilot the flight crew have been trained to consult with MedLink, a US-based, 24/7, satellite medical advisory service that provides the flight crew with a direct connection with specialist aviation medical consultants, who can help assess the passenger’s situation in real-time.

In addition to MedLink, onboard crew are further assisted by the state-of-the-art Tempus IC, an eHealth system that allows them to transmit vital medical data of the affected passenger – such as heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, voice and video – from the aircraft to MedLink using satellite communications. The MedLink team will then advise the crew on how best to treat or alleviate the patient’s condition, and also advise whether a medical diversion is necessary, or if the affected passenger could be treated at the final destination. MedLink will also advise the closest airports the flight could divert to, based on the medical services available at those points.

“In 2013 and 2014, we diverted over 100 flights for medical emergencies, costing more than US$12 million. When a medical diversion does happen, we work hard to get the affected passenger access to medical attention as quickly as possible in coordination with the local authorities, and at the same time try to minimise disruption for other passengers affected by the diversion,” said Emirates’ Executive Vice President and CEO, Adel Al Redha.

For more information contact, like us on Facebook or tweet us @eHealthNewsZA.