An Expanding Horizon

An Expanding Horizon MedAire's business grows as airlines realize the advantages of inflight medical emergency support BY Monica L. Rausch, Associate Editor July 1999 PHOENIX, AZ — A woman, 38 years old, is six months pregnant...


MedAire will be growing to meet that need, says Garrett, and will be exploring the use of new technology such as a vital signs monitor that can transmit not only its findings, but also a video image of the patient to a doctor on the ground — creating a "virtual" ER.

The company is also building a presence in South America and Asia. MedLink now has five call stations at its room in Good Samaritan; three specialists man them by day and two by night. A larger room for their center is in the works. Garrett's concern now is managing growth while keeping a focus on customer service.

...back on the flight to Los Angeles, the doctor on board reports, "The main issue is Énumber oneÉ she says that when we try and set her up a little bit, she feels like she's having more bleeding. And number two, I couldn't really hear any heart tones on the baby. ..She's not feeling any fetal movement at this point." His assessment: there's no need for diversion; the baby is most likely lost.

However, the MedLink physician recommends diverting the flight. As he says later, "The concern is that if she is really quote-unquote six months pregnant, this child is still potentially deliverable at this stage." He tells the doctor on board, "It seems to me from the information you're giving me that we need to have her get medical attention as soon as possible — this could be an early abruption."

The communication specialist talks with the crew and the air carrier's dispatcher to get the plane diverted to the nearest city. The airport is contacted so an emergency medical team will meet the flight. The specialist also calls the hospital and talks to the charge nurse of the ER, explaining the situation. Within an hour of the aircraft being on the ground, a Caesarian section is done, and the mother and child rest in ICU. "They have saved my life, as well as my baby's life," reports the mother. "Everything turned out well and my baby is here beside me."

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