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How Safe Are You on That Long-Distance Flight?

By Pierre Barker | Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A couple of months ago I was somewhere over the Atlantic, heading back to the US on the 15 ½ hour non-stop flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta. At 3.30am, I had given up trying to doze off, upright, in seat 30A. Through the semi-dark I was aware that the fellow traveler in row 28A was struggling to breathe. I was trying to decide whether this was just a case of bad snoring (sleep apnea) or something worse. Moments later, when the passenger stopped breathing, I became embroiled in a full-scale resuscitation.


It turns out this drama at 30,000 feet happens more often than you may think. A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there was a medical emergency on one of every 600 flights; that translates to an estimated 44,000 inflight emergencies each year across the world. About 10 percent of the time, these incidents result in flight diversions. It turns out you have about a 50/50 chance of a doctor being on board, and often there are other health personnel amongst the passengers.


Read more at The Huffington Post.

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