FORT WORTH, Texas - More than 20 people are alive today thanks to defibrillators installed on American Airlines aircraft. The latest “save” came on Oct. 31 at a boarding gate in Chicago.
“These devices have proven invaluable in saving lives,” said Dr. David McKenas, American’s corporate medical director. “Passengers can travel with an added level of comfort knowing that every American and American Eagle aircraft has a defibrillator and flight attendants trained to use them.”
Defibrillators are electronic devices that apply an electric shock to restore the rhythm of a fibrillating heart.
American was the first domestic airline to announce it would equip its entire fleet with defibrillators and the first major domestic airline to complete installation. The first device was installed in May 1997. A little more than a year later, airline personnel recorded their first save. Since then, an additional 26 people have had their lives extended due to the availability of an onboard defibrillator.
American’s defibrillators can also be used simply to monitor an individual’s vital signs. Flight attendants, sometimes assisted by medical personnel traveling as passengers, have used the devices more than 600 times - an average of 11 times a month - to monitor medical conditions onboard an aircraft or in an American gate area.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a final rule on April 12, 2001, requiring U.S. airlines to carry defibrillators on all domestic and international flights within three years. American’s fleet is already 100 percent in compliance. That same day, the FAA also required U.S. carriers to have enhanced medical kits onboard based on a standard set by American.
American Eagle, American’s regional affiliate, also has defibrillators on all of its aircraft. Installation will begin on all TWA aircraft next week with completion estimated by Dec. 31.
American Airlines has also installed the devices at its Fort Worth headquarters building and at its Tulsa, Okla., and Fort Worth, Texas, maintenance bases.
In keeping with accepted privacy standards, American Airlines