Reporter Unclear of Aircraft EMS Operations

Our old pal the Social Medic, Dave Konig, has a new post up about a report from the Business Insider that inferred that EMTs were "under fire" for the way they removed a patient from an aircraft.

Dave's story is here.  Dave's story also has the link to the local news story of the event. I will not link to the Business Insider Article.  He doesn't deserve the traffic.

The author's name however, is Benjamin Zhang, and if he has a google search for his name running...Hi Ben, sit down and let's have a chat about patient care onboard an aircraft.

Just you and me.

You a transportation reporter and me a Rescue Paramedic Captain at one of the busiest airports in the world.  You know, expert to expert.

For those of you following along with Ben and I, one of the passengers on a flight had an issue with the manner in which an "EMT" removed a "dying woman" from the aircraft.  Mostly the issue was modesty, claiming the woman had no pants on as she was dragged off the plane.  She was found unconscious in the lavatory.  Happens quite often.

One passenger made comments about the situation.  Likely the same passenger who remained in their seat during the medical emergency onboard.  Likely the same passenger who sighs heavily when I board telling everyone that we'll be out of their way as soon as we can.

You see, Ben, the FAA requires that when a pilot requests medical assistance, that all passengers remain seated onboard the aircraft until the nature of the emergency can be determined and addressed.  This is most commonly Paramedics boarding the aircraft, assessing and treating the ill or injured and working closely with the cabin and flight crews to deboard as swiftly and as safely as possible.

In  my experience doing this exact thing we usually find someone low on sleep, food and water and high on exhaustion, booze and anxiety.  We walk them off or use a device called an aisle chair to remove them.  However, it sure is easier to wheel someone out of the upper deck of an Airbus A380 than it is a small commuter aircraft.  This being a 737 we can use the chair (props for getting the right aircraft in your thumbnail) but her being unconscious, the chair is not an option.

In those cases we use a drag or over seat board carry method.  If I have a patient in extremis and I can't intervene in the cramped quarters of the aircraft, we are extricating with all speed.  Ever stood in the rear galley of a 737 waiting for the restroom?  Exactly.

This may mean a slide board, blanket drag or a simple under arm carry/drag.  While we do try to retain modesty when possible, I'm sure you'll accept my condolences in the passing of your loved one because we took the extra time to put their pants back on before extricating them and doing our jobs.  I know you're simply rewording the local press version of events quoting 1 of the 150 some odd passengers on board which was disputed by multiple other passengers, the airline and the local EMS agency, but hey, headlines get clicks, right?

So do us all a favor, Ben, stick to writing about airplanes leaking fuel (which happens all the time you must know) or the newest mileage card offers but leave the commentary about Aircraft EMS to us, the experts.  Heck, I'll even offer to serve as a resource to you for your next headline about "Peanuts: Danger or Delicious."




[…] 14:20: Justin Schorr, The Happy Medic, has posted a response including what an actual aircraft EMS operation entails. Justin has experience in this sort of thing, his explanation is thorough and clear enough that […]