Last updated: 03:51 PM ET, Wed June 17 2015

Commercial Jets Urged to Carry Defibrillators, Life-Saving Equipment

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | June 17, 2015

Commercial Jets Urged to Carry Defibrillators, Life-Saving Equipment

In the wake of 47-year-old Davina Tavener's tragic death aboard a Ryanair flight late last year, coroner Alan Walsh is urging airlines to carry defibrillators and other emergency equipment on short- and long-haul flights, according to The Guardian.

Tavener was traveling to Spain with her husband for vacation when she became ill several hours into the flight, collapsed, and ultimately died of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Consultant surgeon Clare Garnsey, who was on the flight and tried to help revive Tavener, indicated that she was surprised a defibrillator wasn't available. "I did ask for a defibrillator, because if it’s a cardiac issue that’s the best chance of survival, and it was quite a surprise this wasn’t there," said Garnsey via The Guardian.

Currently, airlines aren't required to possess a defibrillator onboard.

While Walsh acknowledged that there's no way to know for certain that a defibrillator would have been enough to keep Tavener alive, he plans to reach out to multiple agencies in an effort to make the device accessible on commercial aircraft.

In addition to defibrillators, Walsh wants airlines to consider adding devices like bag valve masks, airway adjuncts and suction equipment to improve the chances of resuscitation in future medical emergencies. 

Walsh said he plans to write letters to the European Aviation Safety Agency, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Irish Aviation Authority. 

The push is for the devices to be made available on every flight as Walsh believes the risk of another tragedy is uniform.

"I don’t believe there is any difference between short-haul flights and long-haul flights, said Walsh via The Guardian. "It takes a second to have a cardiac event and sadly cardiac events don’t choose whether they are 10 minutes into a flight or 10 hours into a flight. If you are, by the nature of air travel, trapped in aircraft without access to any other facility, the authorities need to consider the equipment to be carried on those airlines, whether it’s short haul or long haul."


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