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Heart health

 

 

Anaesthetists have called for airlines should carry more medical equipment for dealing with in-flight cardiac arrests and for aircrew to be better trained. With defibrillators now a common sight in many public places, making education on how to use them available more widely – including through the workplace – could be valuable.

 

Employee health and wellbeing – the value of knowing how to use a defibrillator

Airlines should carry more medical equipment for dealing with in-flight cardiac arrests, doctors have said, and should also spend more time and money investing in training for staff in how to respond to a passenger having a heart attack.

 

About 1,000 people a year die from cardiac arrest in the air, according to data presented at a meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology in June.

 

As a result, a group of doctors (led by the German Society for Aerospace Medicine) drew up new proposals for cardiac arrest on plane journeys. These include that:

  • all planes to carry an ECG and automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • aircraft crew should request help as soon as possible by an onboard announcement after identification of a patient with cardiac arrest. This should state there had been a suspected cardiac arrest and also the location of the emergency equipment.
  • Two-person cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed if possible and the crew should be trained regularly in basic life support
  • The plane should be diverted immediately if necessary

 

Prof Jochen Hinkelbein. of the University of Cologne and president of the German Society for Aerospace Medicine, said: “This is the first guideline providing specific treatment recommendations for in-flight medical emergencies during commercial air travel.

 

“This is of major importance to recommend proper actions and procedures since the airplane environment as well as equipment will be significantly different to what can be provided for medical emergencies on the ground,” he added.

 

Public defibrillators

Clearly, these guidelines are useful and valuable in their own right, and will hopefully help airlines and airline crew respond more effectively to in-flight cardiac arrests.

 

But, arguably, there is a wider and equally important point to be made from this.

 

Nowadays, defibrillators are a common site in many public places and spaces, and rightly so.

 

But how many of us would know how to use one in an emergency?

 

The charity The British Heart Foundation has useful guidance here about how to do cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and on how to use a defibrillator.

 

But too often, like the teenager who saved her father with CPR learnt from an episode of the US medical drama House, relying on someone to know what to do in such an emergency can be a bit of a hit and miss affair.

 

Training and education

This is, surely, where employers could play an important role? Many employers do, of course, offer first aid training and, for any employer with a defibrillator on site, the Health and Safety Executive recommends that staff are fully trained in how to use it.

 

But there is an argument for employers, irrespective, to put this valuable training on the list of their health promotion and health education.

 

After all, the more people who know how to use what can be a daunting piece of equipment, especially in an emergency, the better for anyone who has the misfortune to suffer a cardiac arrest.

 

If nothing else read this

  • Airlines should carry more medical equipment for dealing with in-flight cardiac arrests, doctors have said
  • Employer-based training and education for employees in how to use a defibrillator in the event of an emergency could be valuable
  • If have a defibrillator on site, the Health and Safety Executive recommends staff are fully trained in how to use it

 

 


Posted in News,Occupational health by OH Assist on the 17th July 2017

 
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