AED units on aircraft

AED units on aircraft are becoming more widespread and the UK Resus Council on their website have added some useful information and they have added a video from the BBC where AED's are discussed. Airline staff are trained in basic first aid and they have been carrying first aid kits since 2004 but the introduction of AED units has been slower for European carriers.

Some airlines started caring AED units on long haul flights but now more an more airlines are carrying AED units on all flights.  

One the UK Resus Council website they state that "The exact number of cardiac arrests and sudden cardiac deaths that occur each year during flights on commercial passenger aircraft is unknown, due to the absence of mandatory reporting. It has been estimated that 1 000 people die during commercial flights each year. In-flight medical emergencies during air travel have become more frequent, due to larger numbers of passengers and more frequent travel by older people and people with chronic illness. Medical emergencies have been reported to occur with a frequency of 1 per 10–40 000 passengers. 

When cardiac arrest occurs, any delay in starting resuscitation and in using a defibrillator to deliver a shock when needed will reduce the person’s chance of survival. Although in-flight cardiac arrest is relatively rare, survival from cardiac arrest when there is no defibrillator on board is extremely unlikely, due to the time that it takes to divert and land the aircraft to obtain the treatment needed. 

There have been several reports (series and individual case reports) of successful resuscitation of passengers during air travel as a result of prompt recognition of cardiac arrest by trained flight attendants, prompt delivery of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and prompt use of an on-board automated external defibrillator (AED). Success rates of up to 55% have been reported in people who received prompt CPR and AED use for cardiac arrest due to a ‘shockable rhythm’ (a chaotic heart rhythm that is treatable with a defibrillator).  An AED will only save a life when the cardiac arrest is due to a shockable rhythm. These rhythms have been present in up to one third of cardiac arrests reported in aircraft passengers. Survival from an in-flight cardiac arrest that is not due to a shockable rhythm is extremely unlikely.

Even if the cardiac arrest rhythm is not shockable, attaching an AED to a person in cardiac arrest may help to guide the further action of those attempting resuscitation."

For more information and to read the full story please click here and for more information on online and face to face training on AED units and first aid visit or  You can also call ProTrainings Europe Ltd on 01206 805359.

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