Should defibrillators be mandatory on airlines?
Heathrow airport has been recognised as the safest place in London to suffer cardiac arrest. With 180 defibrillators and 100 staff trained in first aid, the 70 million passengers that pass through Heathrow airport each year should feel confident that they are in safe hands. However, the same cannot be said for the aircraft.
Airlines are not legally required to have a defibrillator on board and there’s no telling when a passenger could fall victim to cardiac arrest.
In a recent case, mother of two Davina Tavener tragically lost her life while travelling on a Ryanair flight to Lanzarote. Davina fell ill about three hours into the journey and when she did not return from the toilet her husband began to worry. Members of the cabin crew opened the door to discover that Davina had collapsed.
Clare Garnsey a consultant surgeon on the aircraft attempted to resuscitate the casualty and requested for a defibrillator. She said: “I did ask for a defibrillator, because if it’s a cardiac issue that’s the best chance of survival, and it was quite a surprise this wasn’t there.” Garnsey told Bolton Coroners Court that she could not feel a pulse and that she believed Davina Tavener had passed away while on the plane.
A representative from Ryanair has made the following statement: “"While we don’t comment on legal matters, Ryanair meets all regulatory requirements in terms of medical assistance provided on its flights and is not legally required to carry defibrillators on board....
"Should an incident occur in flight which requires medical intervention, our crew divert to the nearest suitable airport and request medical assistance to be on standby before landing.”
Cardiac arrest can occur at any time, no matter how old you are or how fit and healthy you may appear. So why is it that defibrillators haven’t been made compulsory on short and long-haul flights?
It may take hours for a plane to make an emergency landing and for the casualty to receive medical attention.
For every minute that passes a victim of cardiac arrest loses 10% of their survival chances. Do you think it should be a legal requirement for all airlines to have a defibrillator on board? Join in the discussion by heading over to our Twitter and Facebook page.