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This New App Helps Doctors Deal With In-Flight Medical Emergencies

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When you step onto an airplane, there are a few things you have little to no control over: turbulence, talkative seat-mates, whether or not your mixed nuts will be warmed and medical emergencies, just to name a few.

Fortunately, there’s an app to help with one of those problems. Dr. Ray Bertino, Clinical Professor of Radiology and Surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, worked with a team of aviation experts to develop airRx, the world’s only smartphone app that’s designed to help physicians deal with some of the most common in-flight medical emergencies.

“When emergency medical care is needed on a flight, a call goes out from the cabin crew to see if a health professional is present and willing to help,” said Dr. Bertino. “But when health professionals respond, they must provide care in an unfamiliar setting with little equipment or assistance, and often treat a condition outside their usual scope of practice.”

Bertino knows this from experience, as he’s one of many medical professionals who has volunteered to help treat a sick passenger only to find himself dealing with issues and equipment outside his own expertise.

Designed specifically for health professionals who don’t treat acute medical problems on a daily basis, airRx puts an invaluable amount of information — from the basics of specific medications to the responsibilities of the cabin crew — at the user’s fingertips.

“Across the world, 150 to 200 medical events occur every day on airplanes,” said Dr. Claude Thibeault, medical advisor to the International Air Transport Association. “Planes are one of the most challenging places in which to treat a medical event due to limited equipment and supplies, lack of space and the time lag to reach medical help on the ground.” Translation: it’s not an environment most professionals have experience in, or have trained for.

No Wi-Fi? No problem. airRx’s full scope of services can be accessed while the user’s phone is in airplane mode, as long as the app has been downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play (for Android devices) ahead of time.

Now, about those mixed nuts…

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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