Questions are raised on the preparedness of the flight crews when dealing with medical emergencies. This was due to the death of an elderly man on the WestJet flight from Hawaii to Calgary last week.
It was midway during the flight when the flight attendants were overheard asking if a doctor or nurse in on board. The nurse as directed to a passenger in the middle of a row close to the front of the plane who appeared to be in his 80s.
The nurse called for help to move the man to the floor. The flight crew were requested to get an AED (automated external defibrillator) and the crew were seen searching the overhead bins. It was around 10 minutes before an AED was found.
If defibrillation and CPR is initiated in the first few minutes, it doubles the survival rate of cardiac arrest victim. Nevertheless, as each minute passes, the probability of survival drops 7-10%.
Finding the AED
It was later discovered that CPR was administered for more than 30 minutes before it was determined that the passenger died.
The man was lifted into a seat and secured for the remainder of the flight. The Calgary EMS confirmed paramedics acted upon landing at Calgary International Airport and the elderly man on board was declared dead.
In a report released by a WestJet spokesperson, they confirmed that there was a medical incident on the flight and the flight crew applied the AED and performed CPR with the aid of a nurse on board.
When questioned if the 10-minute time frame to find the AED was acceptable to the airline, the airline was comfortable with the manner the situation was handled during the incident. According to the airline, all WestJet planes are equipped with a medical emergency kit, AED and MEDAire satellite phone for direct access to emergency doctors.
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