TCS – mobile telemedical support on travels

Travelling by plane is considered to be one of the safest at all. However, with nearly two billion passengers each year worldwide, medical incidents move within the range of the population of a large German city. Estimated 180,000 incidents each year contain 1,200 deaths and a much higher amount of medically necessary unscheduled landings.

In case of a medical problem on board, beside the immediate assistance for the passenger at risk the need for an alternate landing must be decided in the cockpit. Currently help from the ground is already engaged concerning medical assistance as well as the decision regarding the alternate landing. State of the technology is specialized telephone hotlines. It is obvious that the consultation would be more effective if a doctor with emergency knowledge could see the passenger, speak with him and examine him telemedically to contribute valid medical data to the airplane captain’s decision. Up to now an emergency-suitable telemedical system for granting help from the ground has nowhere been in sight.

This gap will be closed the telemedical system TCS which is being developed in a compound project of the Charité.

It is supposed to enable the telemedical attendance to emergencies by a medical call center on the ground. Parallel to a video conference with the airplane vital data can be transferred synchronously and the therapy can be decided on. A functional model has already been tried on patient simulators during various flights. Currently the prototype for tests in airliners is being developed.

The necessity for such a system is not restricted to nearly 8,000 airplanes worldwide but exists also for nearly 40,000 merchant ships which are sometimes one week away from the nearest medical ward. The evolving call center Telemedical Center of the Charité will provide an according emergency service for airlines and shipping companies in the future.