An inflight emergency


Sir, – While recently travelling on a Ryanair flight I was asked to attend to a fellow passenger who had become unwell. Thankfully this was a minor ailment and the passenger was fine. I was alarmed however when I asked the cabin crew what emergency medical supplies there were on board only to find there was next to nothing.

Crucial emergency medicines such as adrenaline, morphine and aspirin are unavailable but most alarmingly of all, there are no defibrillators for cardiac arrests. This, I was told, was because this company flies over Europe and can land in roughly 20 minutes in an emergency.

Most shopping centres and sports facilities across the country will have automatic defibrillators which are small, portable and (with minimal training) are easy to use, so why not an airplane? The value of such immediate and effective treatment being administered can be the difference between life and death, with the crucial window of opportunity being in the first few minutes, as demonstrated with the on-field collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba.

It seems ironic that we’re provided with a life-jacket under seat for the Paris-Marseille flight, a seat-belt the size of a necktie in case the plane drops two miles out of the sky, but basic onboard medical equipment is considered a “frill”. While this situation remains, potential passengers should be aware that unless there is a medical McGyver onboard capable of transforming powdered vodka, smokeless cigarettes and a saucy calendar with the gravitational pull of the moon into a routine piece of standard medical kit, all they will get on board a plane in a medical emergency is someone to hold their hand. – Yours, etc,


Devon Mews, Salthill, Galway.