Nov 9, 2000

Use of automated external defibrillators by a U.S. airline

The New England Journal of Medicine
R L PageD K McKenas


Passengers who have ventricular fibrillation aboard commercial aircraft rarely survive, owing to the delay in obtaining emergency care and defibrillation. In 1997, a major U.S. airline began equipping its aircraft with automated external defibrillators. Flight attendants were trained in the use of the defibrillator and applied the device when passengers had a lack of consciousness, pulse, or respiration. The automated external defibrillator was also used as a monitor for other medical emergencies, generally at the direction of a passenger who was a physician. The electrocardiogram that was obtained during each use of the device was analyzed by two arrhythmia specialists for appropriateness of use. We analyzed data on all 200 instances in which the defibrillators were used between June 1, 1997, and July 15, 1999. Automated external defibrillators were used for 200 patients (191 on the aircraft and 9 in the terminal), including 99 with documented loss of consciousness. Electrocardiographic data were available for 185 patients. The administration of shock was advised in all 14 patients who had electrocardiographically documented ventricular fibrillation, and no shock was advised in the remaining patients (sensitivity and specifici...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Ventricular Fibrillation
Cell Respiration
Respiratory Gaseous Exchange in Organisms
Electroversion Therapy
Electrocardiographic Recorders

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