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In-flight Emergencies: Doc Riders in the Sky-Reply

Richard O. Cummins, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1990;263(2):234-235. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020067023.
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In Reply.—  The interesting experiences of Drs Bonchek and Glass hint at a vast, unknown reservoir of anecdotes about medical emergencies during air travel. Since publication of our articles1-3 on this topic, we have received numerous personal accounts of the resourcefulness of traveling emergency personnel as well as airline employees.Simply asking for medications possessed by other passengers has been so effective so often that all traveling physicians should try it. The technique succeeds most noticeably with tranquilizers and hypnotics (at least with US passengers), but can also quickly produce nitroglycerin, aerosolized bronchodilators, antiemetics, insulin, diuretics, and analgesics.We have received accounts of passengers who have performed intubation in flight (a traveling anesthesiologist), relieved obstructed airways, and organized passenger teams to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation for more than 2 hours. Some occasional rigid thinking on the part of flight attendants has led to unfortunate episodes, such as failure to let


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