The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a final rule requiring U.S. airlines to carry automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and enhanced emergency medical kits.
The rule applies to all airplanes flying domestic and international flights that weigh more than 7,500 pounds each and have at least one flight attendant. The airlines will have 3 years to comply with the newrule.
FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey said, "Nine airlines either currently carry AEDs and enhanced kits or have made a commitment to do so. Our rule will ensure that all airline passengers have access to this potentially life-saving device."
In a study published in the Oct. 26, 2000 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers had tracked the results of an American Airlines program in which flight attendants were trained in using AEDs.
The devices were used on 200 people who were experiencing cardiac arrest, and 40 percent of those treated with an AED survived.
The rule also added several new medications to emergency medical kits that are already carried on U.S. airplanes. The new medications include oral antihistamines, non-narcotic analgesics, aspirin, bronchodilator inhalers and masks for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Airline crew members will receive initial training on the emergency medical kits and on operating the AEDs.
FAA estimates that the cost to the airline industry over 10 years for equipment, medications and training will be roughly $16 million.
by Virginia Sutcliffe