Study at Emergency Medicine Conference: Practice and a Mobile App Improve Doctor Performance During In-Flight Medical Emergencies

Unique Simulation Study Challenges Physicians with Lifelike Emergency Situations

PEORIA, Ill.--()--With increasing air travel, in-flight medical emergencies have increased and physicians on commercial airline flights are routinely asked to volunteer assistance. Yet most health care professionals lack sufficient knowledge about in-flight emergency stabilization, resources available and protocols.1 A study presented this week at the annual meeting of The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) showed that physician performance and confidence improved during practice simulations of in-flight medical emergencies, especially when coupled with use of a smartphone app.

The simulation study was conducted by Jump Simulation, part of OSF Innovation and a collaboration with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP). The study utilized airRx, the mobile app developed to help physicians and other medical personnel volunteering during in-flight medical events.

“Health care professionals are typically not used to responding to in-flight medical emergencies,” explained John Vozenilek, MD, FACEP, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Simulation, Jump Simulation. “The study suggests that practice with simulated in-flight emergencies improves resident physicians’ confidence and performance. Access to a specialized mobile app also seems to help.”

In the unique study presented at SAEM, cases based on commonly occurring in-flight medical emergencies were portrayed in a mockup of the airline cabin setting. Actors portrayed patients, family members, seat neighbors and flight attendants. Resident physicians in non-emergency specialties were asked to assist as if they were volunteering in actual medical emergencies.

The physicians were randomized into two groups, one that was provided with the airRx app and one that was not given the app. They were rated on their performance by trained observers using a Critical Action Checklist and on timing for key critical actions. The physicians were asked to report their confidence before and after the simulations.

Physicians using the airRx app achieved higher scores on the Critical Action Checklist and on critical action timing for contacting ground support. Physician confidence in managing in-flight medical emergencies increased in both those using the airRx app and those without the app, but increased more in the airRx group.

The airRx app – available for download at no cost - enables healthcare professionals to access 23 scenarios of the most common medical emergencies, with concise treatment algorithms and reference information to help evaluate and treat the patient. After being downloaded, airRx does not require onboard Wi-Fi or internet connection.

“Few resources are available to familiarize physicians with what they may encounter as in-flight volunteers, which often includes medical events and conditions outside of their own medical specialties,” commented Dr. Raymond E. Bertino, airRx lead developer and Clinical Professor of Radiology and Surgery at UICOMP. “AirRx provides a real-time checklist and quick reference handbook to improve the way that emergent medical situations in the air are addressed.”

About airRx

With no formal physician training provided for handling in-flight events, airRx is designed to bridge the knowledge gap. airRx is available for full use in Airplane mode after being downloaded from either the Apple App Store or Android Google Play at no cost. Links for download of the airRx app can also be found at Inquiries to

About Jump Simulation

Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation, is a collaboration between University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and OSF HealthCare. The center replicates a variety of patient care settings to ensure novice and seasoned clinicians can practice handling medical situations in a life-like environment. Boasting six floors and 168,000 square feet, the center is one of the largest of its kind and provides space for conferences, anatomic training, virtual reality and innovation. For more information, visit

1. Cross-Sectional Survey of Physicians on Providing Volunteer Care for In-Flight Medical Events, Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, Volume 88, Number 9, September 2017, pp. 876-879(4).


For airRx
Ed Stevens, 727-412-1541

Release Summary

Emergency Medicine Study: Practice with simulated in-flight emergencies and use of specialized mobile app improve physician confidence and performance.


For airRx
Ed Stevens, 727-412-1541