Is There a Doctor on Board?

Sunday, 22 September 2019
08:00 - 11:30


Course Description

There are an estimated 20,000 in-flight emergencies reported in the United States annually. With our aging population plagued by a growing epidemic of chronic diseases, and as aircrafts are becoming larger yet more cramped, and longer flights are becoming more routine, an increase in in-flight medical emergencies can be anticipated. Eventually, the airline industry will have no choice but to reexamine and address its non-specific and antiquated protocols in an effort to optimize care for passengers who become acutely ill.

Healthcare Professionals (HCP) traveling on commercial airlines may be asked to render care to passengers who are experiencing a medical emergency despite limited training or experience in these situations. In fact, a significant portion of in-flight emergencies are managed by off-duty medical professionals such as physicians, nurses, and emergency medical technicians who offer their services as Good Samaritans. The wide variation in medical expertise and experience in managing acute medical emergencies between volunteers, coupled with the lack of standardized approaches to common in-flight medical emergencies, create barriers to providing timely, effective, and quality care in these settings. Furthermore, these variations can result in wide-ranging practice patterns leading to varied outcomes.

This is a 3.5 hour workshop aimed at preparing Healthcare Professionals (HCP) to become effective responders during in-flight emergencies. It will cover essential topics such as the physiologic stress of flying, the epidemiology of in-flight medical emergencies, the medical-legal considerations of responding, resources available to responders on a plane, and an algorithmic approach to the most common in-flight chief complaints. We will integrate and emphasize important concepts via simulation helping HCP become better equipped in responding to most types of in-flight medical emergencies.

This workshop will attempt to address some of these issues.

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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  1. Review the concept of inflight emergencies
  2. Familiarization with the medications and supplies on board typical commercial aircrafts
  3. Discuss a strategy for treatment and management of inflight medical emergencies
  4. Practice structured  and effective communication between involved parties
  5. Understand the constraints and limitations that are placed on the crew, airline, and ground control.
  6. Demonstrate basic assessment and management skills in a simulated environment

The goal of this course is to develop HCP Credentials for airlines.

Course Fee

  • Organizing Society Member (AAEM, MAEM): $200 USD
  • Non-Member: $250 USD
  • June Flash Sale: Save $50 USD on pre-congress courses when you register between 1-30 June 2019!

Tentative Course Schedule

Sunday, 22 September 2019

08:00 – 08:45

Introduction, Simulation and Group Discussion

08:45 – 09:15

Case 1 – AMS

09:15 – 09:45

Case 2 – Syncope

09:45 – 10:15

Case 3 – Chest Pain; Shortness of Breath (SOB)

10:15 – 10:30


10:30 – 11:00

Tabletop Exercise

11:00 – 11:30


Target Audience

Health care providers who fly on commercial airlines and might consider helping on an inflight emergency.


Course Director

Kumar Alagappan, MD FAAEM
Professor, MD Anderson, University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA


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Important Dates

12 September 2019
Hotel Reservation Deadline

22 September 2019
Pre-Congress Courses

23-25 September 2019
MEMC Congress


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