Is there a doctor on the airplane? What to expect in an emergency

Is there a doctor on the airplane? I will start off by stating that this is not a call that should only be responded to by someone with an MD or a DO behind their name. I know of many seriously good critical care nurses who push away physicians who freeze in a tough situation and just handle it. I know nurses who can do much better patient assessments, bag patients, perform better chest compressions than many MD’s. ARNP’s and PA’s, I haven’t forgotten about you all. You can respond to this call as well. It all of our duties.

This is going to be you or me who rises up from our seat when duty calls and we need to tend to a sick person on an airplane. I always think that this may happen on my particular flight because, well, I’m insane. As I walk through the aisle and pass through all the rows to the back to the plane because, face it, I am not First Class level, I survey the individuals in the seats to prepare for who may crash and burn. Not talking about the plane, of course. That being said, I can’t believe that until this moment I had never thought about what medical equipment is actually available on the flights. This made me do a little deeper dig rather than just “figure it out” when the situation presented itself. Hopefully never, of course. But hey, poop happens and this is what we are trained to do. So let’s do it!

This table was taken from HERE.
If you’re a doctor on the airplane, this is the gear you may have.

Airways, oropharyngeal (3 sizes): 1 pediatric, 1 small adult, 1 large adult or equivalent3
Self-inflating manual resuscitation device with 3 masks (1 pediatric, 1 small adult, 1 large adult or equivalent)1:3 masks
CPR mask (3 sizes), 1 pediatric, 1 small adult, 1 large adult, or equivalent3
IV Admin Set: Tubing w/ 2 Y connectors1
Alcohol sponges2
Adhesive tape, 1-inch standard roll adhesive1
Tape scissors1 pair
Saline solution, 500 cc1
Protective nonpermeable gloves or equivalent1 pair
Needles (2-18 ga., 2-20 ga., 2-22 ga., or sizes necessary to administer required medications)6
Syringes (1-5 cc, 2-10 cc, or sizes necessary to administer required medications)4
Analgesic, non-narcotic, tablets, 325 mg4
Antihistamine tablets, 25 mg4
Antihistamine injectable, 50 mg, (single dose ampule or equivalent)2
Atropine, 0.5 mg, 5 cc (single dose ampule or equivalent)2
Aspirin tablets, 325 mg4
Bronchodilator, inhaled (metered dose inhaler or equivalent)1
Dextrose, 50%/50 cc injectable, (single dose ampule or equivalent)1
Epinephrine 1:1000, 1 cc, injectable, (single dose ampule or equivalent)2
Epinephrine 1:10,000, 2 cc, injectable, (single dose ampule or equivalent)2
Lidocaine, 5 cc, 20 mg/ml, injectable (single dose ampule or equivalent)2
Nitroglycerin tablets, 0.4 mg10
Basic instructions for use of the drugs in the kit1