General medical emergency advice

Gundam

Well-Known Member
What assistance can ATC provide in a medical emergency, would they know the nearest airport where medical service might be nearby/somewhat good as opposed to podunk?

Generally is it better to get on the ground to any airport where first response services might be during a medical emergency, as opposed to flying an extra 12-15 minutes to a larger city? I figure 8.5 minutes is the minimum to come down from cruise and land right below you. So the alternative might be flying 20 minutes to land at a larger city or town. Is it better to just get down?
 

poser765

Well-Known Member
What assistance can ATC provide in a medical emergency, would they know the nearest airport where medical service might be nearby/somewhat good as opposed to podunk?

Generally is it better to get on the ground to any airport where first response services might be during a medical emergency, as opposed to flying an extra 12-15 minutes to a larger city? I figure 8.5 minutes is the minimum to come down from cruise and land right below you. So the alternative might be flying 20 minutes to land at a larger city or town. Is it better to just get down?
Can the airplane land at the field?

Can the people get off/emts get on?

Does the town have a hospital and an ambulance service?

The first two I can PROBABLY figure out on my own. The last, atc/dispatch can probably Google faster an easier than I can.
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
Are you talking 121 or GA? For my upgrade LOE we had a medical emergency and did a return back to ATL. Some guy in the back was having a heart attack so I knew I needed to get on the ground ASAP. For me, it would depend on the severity/nature of the emergency. A good dispatcher also helps. ATC could be of some assistance pointing out closest fields.
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
Do you guys not use medlink?
I've had to chat with them a few times. They provide the best advice; working in conjunction with dispatch and medical services. They provide services outside the US as well.

A few weeks ago a passenger went from dead (user error from the FA's) to ambulatory. The ambulance met us at the pudunk Caribbean airport we were flying too.
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
Do you guys not use medlink?
I've had to chat with them a few times. They provide the best advice; working in conjunction with dispatch and medical services. They provide services outside the US as well.

A few weeks ago a passenger went from dead (user error from the FA's) to ambulatory. The ambulance met us at the pudunk Caribbean airport we were flying too.
We use StatMD. I’ve never actually used it. Someone who has, correct me if I’m wrong but you have to communicate through your dispatcher who then relays the information over to StatMD. So your dispatcher becomes the middle man and it just becomes a game of telephone which can be frustrating and inefficient. It’s not a direct line between pilots and StatMD. This is how I understand it. Again, someone who has used it, please correct me if I’m wrong.
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
@Jordan93 I'm sure it's just a different company, but providing the same service.

We use a VHF (or HF if out of range) to call NYC radio. They make the patch to medlink and our dispatcher. The FA's fill out a form which list the patient's vitals and pertinent info. We talk to the MD in real time, directly.
It is a radio patch, so there is a lot of repeat and delayed response. The MD gives the best info with the info they have. They would recommend continuing or diverting etc...
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
@Jordan93 I'm sure it's just a different company, but providing the same service.

We use a VHF (or HF if out of range) to call NYC radio. They make the patch to medlink and our dispatcher. The FA's fill out a form which list the patient's vitals and pertinent info. We talk to the MD in real time, directly.
It is a radio patch, so there is a lot of repeat and delayed response. The MD gives the best info with the info they have. They would recommend continuing or diverting etc...
Yea just looked it up. It’s the same thing. Call up ARINC, get a patch through dispatch over to StatMD and start talking.
 

Gundam

Well-Known Member
Are you talking 121 or GA? For my upgrade LOE we had a medical emergency and did a return back to ATL. Some guy in the back was having a heart attack so I knew I needed to get on the ground ASAP. For me, it would depend on the severity/nature of the emergency. A good dispatcher also helps. ATC could be of some assistance pointing out closest fields.
121 yes, I should have clarified. My concern is after some time in cruise when the return to departure point isn't practical. Contacting dispatch is a good point. I wasn't sure how helpful ATC might be in choosing a field though.

No medlink unfortunately. edit: ah o.k. Stat MD. Good advice so far. My main concern is getting on the ground and where if its serious.
 
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OneNineHundy

Well-Known Member
We called Medlink just last week. FA fills out a Medlink form and we relay the information via satphone directly to the doctor. Works great. They offer advice on what medication etc to give.

Sent from my SM-N920I using Tapatalk
 

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
121 yes, I should have clarified. My concern is after some time in cruise when the return to departure point isn't practical. Contacting dispatch is a good point. I wasn't sure how helpful ATC might be in choosing a field though.

No medlink unfortunately. edit: ah o.k. Stat MD. Good advice so far. My main concern is getting on the ground and where if its serious.
If you are flying 121, your FOM will have very specific instructions about this scenerio.
 

launchpad

Well-Known Member
121 or not, the important thing is to make sure you take care of the flying part of flying an airplane..
Flying into an unfamiliar airport without taking a couple minutes to make a plan could easily become more of an emergency than whoever's sick.
 

Van_Hoolio

Well-Known Member
My only medical divert I asked the captain if he wanted me to call medlink. He said, no it doesn't matter we're diverting anyway.
 

Gundam

Well-Known Member
If you are flying 121, your FOM will have very specific instructions about this scenerio.
I read the FOM. Unless I forgot something (highly possible) instructions are not that specific. They indicate coordination with dispatch for medical service at diversion or destination airport, not how to select the airport. One item says something like:

The PIC ensures all possible measures are taken to afford proper care for the patient until medical responders are able to take them.

In that I would consider delivery of the patient to a place with suitable care. I have been just marking airports near relatively large cities at a few points in each state in the Jepp app so I can have an idea of where to go at any given time.

Thinking about it more, from what I remember generally is that the person should be stabilized quickly. So flying further to a larger city is probably not worth it as long as a near field in a small town has the ability to accommodate the plane and passenger.

I am looking at it from the perspective of "what if my [mother/father/sister/brother/wife/daughter/son etc.] was in the back and needed care?" The only medical emergency I experienced allowed for a return to field, albeit slightly overweight, and I felt training had not adequately prepared me for medical emergencies generally. I know we are coming down earlier, just not what my resources are for choosing where.
 
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wheelsup

Well-Known Member
If you're at a commuter the resources are lacking at least in my expeirence.

Any larger airport will have a hospital. Don't overthink it.

At larger carriers like mine we have diversion airports that include that sort of info. We actually use a phone on board to talk to a medical team on the ground, who knows our position and will recommend diversion airports based on facilities and time. They will also call ahead to those facilities to ensure transport is set up and ready to go.
 

PropSettin'

Low n Slow
My first piece of advice is now the first thing I do, and I havent seen it mentioned yet...

Make a PA asking for any qualified medical personnel on board to identify themselves.

Having someone who is qualified onboard to look at the person and make an accurate assessment and pass that information on to the crew is invaluable. In two medical events, both times I have had a nurse or doctor on board already. If you really dont have anyone, then move on.
 

gotWXdagain

Highly Visible Member
For the love of all that is holy don’t just assume that because the runway is long enough, that the town has the appropriate medical facilities capabilities to deal with your passenger once they become a patient.

Airplanes make for pretty fast ambulances if need be, especially in the 121 world. If they don’t survive the extra 15 minutes it’ll take to get to a decently sized city, they probably weren’t going to make it anyway.
 

Gundam

Well-Known Member
For the love of all that is holy don’t just assume that because the runway is long enough, that the town has the appropriate medical facilities capabilities to deal with your passenger once they become a patient.
O.k...wasn't going off runway length, but I think we're on the same page?

The issue is an airplane isn't an ambulance and if you only have the flight attendants that aren't trained EMTs and don't have that tool kit, that person might be losing a chance at recovery since every minute can count.

I think having medically trained able bodied pax would make me go for the larger metro adjacent airport, especially if they thought it was worth the time.

Right now I am leaning toward nearest suitable to accommdate a patient, since at least they will have the EMTs ready and a hospital somewhere, possibly an air ambulance. Going for larger metro area if we have medically trained pax that think the patient could make it the 20min or so it may take. This a bigger issue flying further west passing Colorado, Utah, Idaho, etc.
If you're at a commuter the resources are lacking at least in my expeirence.

Any larger airport will have a hospital. Don't overthink it.

At larger carriers like mine we have diversion airports that include that sort of info. We actually use a phone on board to talk to a medical team on the ground, who knows our position and will recommend diversion airports based on facilities and time. They will also call ahead to those facilities to ensure transport is set up and ready to go.
Having a phone to just pick up and get all that information would be awesome but it isn't an option sadly. Communication is a big unknown since I've never used dispatch like that and exactly what they are likely to know and what ATC might know is not certain. Add to that getting information to land normally and that is a lot to juggle. Half the battle is just knowing options in terms of airports.
 
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jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
The issue is an airplane isn't an ambulance and if you only have the flight attendants that aren't trained EMTs and don't have that tool kit, that person might be losing a chance at recovery since every minute can count.
So, I'm gonna stop you right here for a second.

First, while you want to make sure that the sick passenger is provided any medical services they need in the most expedient manner possible, the reality is that you've got 50-500 other people strapped into that tin can you're flying. Making sure everyone gets on the ground SAFELY is your FIRST priority, not having every minute count.

Second, in any emergency, the best way you can solve the problem is to WORK. SLOWLY. By slowing down and doing the job right the first time, you'll give yourself the best chance at a successful outcome.
 
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