Children need more protection in airplane emergencies

Children need more protection in airplane emergencies

For children who become ill during a flight, there is sometimes only limited care available. This is the conclusion reached by scientists at duke university who analyzed data from american flights.

First aid kits on board are not always designed to provide the necessary treatment for the next generation, write researchers in a study for the journal "annals of emergency medicine".

"Nearly 16 percent of airplane medical emergencies involve children, so these are not rare incidents," says lead author alexandre rotta of duke university. "Our best estimate is that medical events during flight occur in about one out of every 300 flights, and those involving children in about one out of every 2,000 flights," said rotta. In other words, there are approximately 23 in-flight pediatric medical incidents for every million child passengers flown.

In most cases, according to the study, cabin staff had to intervene when parents did not have their child’s medication with them themselves. But the medicines in airlines’ first aid kits are not always suitable for children either. For example, a small child often cannot swallow a tablet intended for an adult, let alone tolerate the dosage.

"Both airlines and parents should be aware of the most common illnesses and be prepared to deal with them," rotta urges. There should also be information material on board indicating the amount of medication needed for each child’s weight.

According to the authors of the study, young patients have to contend with the same health problems in the air as they do on land. The most common were nausea or vomiting (33.9 percent), fever or chills (22.2 percent), acute allergic reactions (5.5 percent), abdominal pain (4.7 percent) and gastrointestinal upset (4.5 percent).

This is also confirmed by michael sroka, head of the emergency outpatient clinic at frankfurt airport. "Typical are respiratory infections, nausea, vomiting and general travel sickness," says the physician. In addition, there were accidents in everyday life, for example while playing and running around.

The emergency outpatient clinic at frankfurt airport, as well as the rescue and emergency medical services of fraport ag, treat around 30,000 patients a year. Health problems could occur after returning from vacation or business travel. "Occasionally, of course, this also affects children," says sroka.

In the doctor’s opinion, however, there are no major problems: "in our opinion, most parents are well prepared when traveling with children," reports the head of the outpatient clinic. Increasingly, families are also presenting themselves to travel medicine before they travel. In a medical consultation, it is then jointly ensured that all the necessary vaccinations for the respective country of travel are available. Behavioral rules and nutritional tips are also an integral part of such travel medical advice.

According to the airline, lufthansa cabin crew are trained in first aid for the emergencies to be expected on board and receive annual refresher training. Simulating onboard emergencies with children is also a standard part of the training and refresher courses. Extensive equipment is available on board for treatment, consisting of an emergency medical kit, defibrillator and several first aid kits. Various medications, including vials, always flew with them.

According to the authors of the study, around 83 percent of medical emergencies could be solved during the flight. In 16.5 percent of cases, treatment was required after landing, and in 0.5 percent of cases, the emergency led to a detour of the aircraft.

Researchers evaluated 75,587 incidents received at the world’s busiest medical support center in the u.S. During the period from january 2015 to october 2016. The center has received emergency calls from 77 airlines from six continents during the period. These accounted for about 35 percent of commercial passenger air traffic worldwide. Around 11,200 of the cases involved children under 19 years of age.

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