ESA emergency telemedicine system soars to commercial success
‘Is there a doctor on the plane?’ Piping this request over aircraft speakers is the traditional response to a potential onboard medical emergency. But now the availability of expert medical advice can be guaranteed every time.
Etihad Airways, national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, is the latest airline to install the ESA-derived Tempus IC telemedicine system on its long-haul flights.
ESA supported the development of the technology in collaboration with the UK manufacturer RDT. Already in service with numerous airlines, the briefcase-sized Tempus IC puts non-medical cabin crew in contact with ground-based experts during in-flight medical emergencies.
Key information about the passenger’s health can be quickly transmitted via satellite to a dedicated response centre.
The same vital signs which are measured routinely in a hospital emergency room, including blood pressure and sugar levels, temperature and heart rate, are captured to a clinical level of quality.
At the same time, the crew can also talk with the medical specialists and send them still and moving pictures of the situation.
Imagine a long-haul flight passenger complaining of acute shoulder pain. He may just have strained his muscles lifting too much luggage – or he could be experiencing a heart attack.
The Tempus IC system can transmit the passenger’s electrocardiographic readings to the medical team, allowing them to rule out heart problems and preventing an emergency diversion costing many thousands of euros.
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