Lufthansa has equipped all long–haul aircraft with the mobile ECG (Electrocardiogram) system CardioSecur. In case of on-board medical emergencies, the compact, intuitive system will allow flight attendants without cardiological expertise to record an ECG for passengers and send the test results directly to a medical hotline on the ground. The system has initially been tested in 2018 on the A380 fleet and now, it will be available for medical emergencies on all long-haul aircraft within the Lufthansa fleet.
Weighing only 50 grams, the compact mobile ECG system developed and distributed by Personal MedSystems GmbH does not take up much space or weight. It consists of an app on the flight attendant’s Cabin Mobile Device (mini iPad) and a small bag with an ECG cable and four disposable electrodes. If a passenger complains of heart trouble, the system can record an ECG in a few short steps. First, the flight attendant establishes an internet connection via the FlyNet WiFi network on the Cabin Mobile Device and starts the app. The crew then connects the ECG cable to the four electrodes and places them on the upper body of the unwell passenger. The app records a 12-lead ECG; additional parameters such as the patient’s age, weight, gender, blood pressure and oxygen saturation are captured manually.
This data will then be transferred from the app to the medical hotline of International SOS (ISOS). This Lufthansa partner can be contacted by pilots and pursers 24/7 in case of medical questions. ISOS will evaluate the ECG and advise the cockpit crew via telephone based on the gathered data. The cockpit crew will then have to make the final decision on whether it is necessary to divert the plane. If there is a doctor among the passengers on board, they can use the expert mode on the app to monitor the heart activity.
"Because the severity of the symptoms does not necessarily provide information about the severity of the illness, it is difficult not only for the crew, but also for the doctors on the ground, to assess whether an unscheduled landing for medical treatment is required. CardioSecur's in-depth 12-lead ECG data – straight from the plane – is a true innovation, giving physicians a much more detailed basis for decision-making,” said Dr. Sven-Karsten Peters, internal cardiologist for Lufthansa’s medical services.
The existing program “Doctor on Board” allows the cabin crew to swiftly identify doctors present on board, including their specialties. This program provided by Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS currently has 11,000 participating doctors from all specialties who can provide assistance in the case of medical incidents. For this purpose, an optimally equipped emergency kit that exceeds regulatory requirements is available, along with other materials. The crew is also well prepared for emergencies and receives first aid training every year.
Cardiovascular complaints are the most common cause of medical incidents on board. If there are any doctors on the flight, they have been able to use the defibrillator so far as a workaround to better assess the situation. However, the results from that machine cannot replace an ECG.
Medical Travel Assistance
Lufthansa now offers a medical travel assistance service in cooperation with the service provider Medical Travel Companion. Passengers can choose to book either a nurse, a paramedic or a doctor to care for them during their entire flight. Lufthansa is the first European airline to offer this service. The medical companion program has different packages that passengers can choose from. Depending on their needs, customers can for example book medical supervision or wound management.