Part 2: Reading comprehension

Part 2: Reading comprehension

Read this article about how airline companies deal with illness in flight, then answer the question which follow.

Illness during flight

Minor ailments and injuries

The cabin crew is trained to deal with simple cases, say a passenger, with a headache or one who’s feeling a bit queasy. They will have a medical kit with them containing basic first aid equipment, such as plasters, dressings, antiseptic sprays / ointments, scissors, etc, as well as over the counter medicines such as paracetamol, and common medicines against sickness and diarrhoea, indigestion, etc. There is one medical kit for every 100 passengers.

Contacting a doctor

In more serious cases, e.g. asthma attacks, panic attacks, the cabin crew will inform the captain who will then put out a call to see if there is a doctor on board. If there is no doctor on board, many air carriers have emergency medical service arrangements with external providers or their own emergency medical service. A member of the crew will contact the service provider via satellite phone or radio. Carriers which have no such service will contact the nearest control tower and ask to be put in touch with a doctor.

Prescribing medicine

European regulations require all medium and long-haul flights to carry an emergency medical kit which is kept locked in a secure location and which can only be used with the authorisation of the captain and under medical supervision, either from a suitably qualified health professional on board or from the emergency medical service. This kit contains prescription medicines, in some cases even morphine, as well as more specialised equipment such as a stethoscope and blood pressure monitor.

Anxious or unruly passengers

All crew members are trained to deal with passengers suffering from anxiety attacks, as well as with unruly or violent passengers. In the former case, crew members may be authorised to give the passenger anti-anxiety medication contained in the emergency medical kit. In the latter, crew members will initially issue a warning to the passenger but if this is not effective, they are authorised to use restraints to neutralise any potential threat.

Heart attacks

In cases of suspected heart attack, the crew must alert the captain. All crew members are qualified first aiders and will administer CPR or use the defibrillator, if the aircraft is equipped with one. In the United States this is a legal requirement and many other companies have decided to equip their planes with them.

Diversion / emergency landing

It is the captain’s decision whether to divert. The decision will be taken when a passenger needs urgent specialist care and the captain must be sure that adequate facilities are available in close proximity to the airfield to which he / she chooses to divert.


Complete these sentences:

  1. The cabin crew are trained to ___
  2. The crew will contact a medical service on the ground if ___
  3. In an emergency, if the airline doesn’t have its own medical service or an arrangement with an external provider, the crew will ___
  4. All medium and long-haul flights covered by European regulations must ___
  5. The medical is kept ___
  6. This kit can only be used with ___
  7. If a passenger is suffering from an anxiety attack, the crew may be given permission to ___
  8. If a passenger becomes unruly or violent, first of all, the crew will…
  9. If the warning is not heeded, the crew are permitted to ___
  10. If the cabin crew think a passenger has had a heart attack, they must…
  11. In the United States aircraft must ___
  12. If a passenger needs urgent medical treatment and the captain decides to divert, the captain must ___

Vocabulary building

Which of the words / phrases underlined in the text is similar in meaning to:

  • Very close to
  • Straps or other equipment designed to restrict a passenger’s movement
  • Firstly / to start with
  • Flights which cover a long distance
  • A device used to restart a person’s heart in case of heart attack
  • Doctor, nurse, surgeon, etc.
  • Disruptive
  • Tell someone something / make them aware of
  • Eliminate (a danger) / make harmless
  • Believed / thought to be the case
  • Give
  • Medicines which can only be obtained with the authorisation of a doctor and a pharmacist