Dead Man Floating

Last week, I flew from Philadelphia to Nashville to Raleigh to Tampa to Philadelphia. I met with lawmakers about the sudden cardiac arrest prevention act. We found lawmakers in Tennessee and North Carolina to sponsor the bill. We’re pretty excited.

I heard airline attendants on four separate occasions tell us that our seats turn into a flotation device in the event of a water emergency. That’s interesting . . . but I’m not flying over water on these trips, I thought.


Then I wondered, how many times do planes crash in the water? The answer must be lots since this instruction is mandatory on EVERY flight. Surprise! According to the Global Incident Map, there were no crashes into water in the US last year (there were no crashes at all, actually).

What other message could the attendants share that could save lives in the midst of a crisis on board? Here’s a clue. Over the past week, I read three headlines:  Delta Employee Saved by AED, Passenger Dies Mid Air of Cardiac Arrest While Flying, and Cardiac Arrest at 29,000 Feet. So, for the week of July 21, the airlines experienced AT LEAST three instances of sudden cardiac arrest.

Could the attendants teach us how to use an AED in those 15 seconds? Yep. Last week, would that instruction have been more useful than the floating seats? Yep. However, that simple instruction could have a much greater societal impact. AEDs are in many public places, so this would actually be knowledge that passengers could take out into the world. They could save lives at sporting events, the mall, in parks and at schools. In my 42 years, I haven’t seen floating cushions in any of these places.

It seems that the odds of dying on a plane from SCA are significantly higher than crashing into a body of water. So let’s change that speech and talk to passengers about AED devices. Otherwise, we run the risk of someone dying of sudden cardiac arrest before they hit the water.