Recently, Delta Air Lines instituted a pair of key tech-enabled enhancements to help its flight attendants more effectively handle in-flight medical events. The first is the transition to a new in-flight medical support provider, MedAire’s MedLink service, in March.

With MedLink, Delta’s flight attendants now have direct access to the service’s team of doctors through a secure app on their Delta SkyPro mobile devices. This allows for safe, real-time communication of crucial non-identifiable medical information that will help doctors more accurately assess the condition of the customer and recommend a course of action for the crew. Traditionally, flight attendants have had to depend on specialized headsets that can take precious minutes to set up and rely on passing paper forms to pilots who serve as intermediaries when communicating with medical professionals on the ground.  With the MedLink app, this process is as quick and simple as placing a call on a mobile phone. Thereby, greatly improving flight attendants’ ability to respond quickly to medical events.

The airline also upgraded its Red Pouch, which is the suite of medical diagnostic equipment found on board Delta aircraft. The upgraded equipment, which Delta expects to be installed on its entire fleet by the end of 2023, will include a pulse oximeter, temporal thermometer, automatic blood pressure cuff and enhanced medical-grade stethoscope.  

Delta’s upgraded suite of diagnostic devices work in tandem with the new capabilities made available by the switch to the app-based MedLink service. According to Kenneth Sperling, a Delta Flight Attendant, the new technology “really streamlines the process of collecting, communicating and receiving crucial information during a medical emergency.”

Each Delta flight attendant receives six weeks of initial training along with recurrent training every 18 months. During their initial training, flight attendants are required to complete a total of six modules designed to prepare them to respond to onboard medical events. The training modules, spread out over 17 hours of instruction, consist of eLearning, classroom time, hands-on practice as well as training simulations in an aircraft cabin.  Medical training is focused on gathering and communicating key information and symptoms presented by the customer to MedLink’s doctors.

In addition to identifying symptoms, the airline’s flight attendants receive instruction on how to provide basic first aid and CPR including the use of an AED.  MedLink’s doctors advise the flight attendant on what care to provide, and, at times, flight attendants will call for the assistance of any licensed or certified medical professionals who may be onboard.