In-flight continuous vital signs telemetry via the internet

Alejandro Gandsas, Kevin Montgomery, David Mckenas, Rodolfo Altrudi, Yvan Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Current methods available to assess a passenger's life threatening medical condition during in-flight emergencies are inadequate. Critical communication channels between the airplane and ground control rely only on voice communication via a two-way radio. The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of cellular telephone technology via the Internet as a cost-effective way to obtain the 'linking' pathway from an aircraft to a ground medical facility by conducting a simulated on line triage. Methods: On July 31, 1997, we transmitted vital signs from a Boeing 757, flying from Chicago to Los Angeles, simultaneously to: The Saddle Back Memorial, in Laguna Hills, CA; Hospital Santojanni in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Medical Department of American Airlines in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX. Three lead EKG, heart rate, BP, arterial oxygen saturation, end tidal CO2, respiratory rate body temperature and real time video images were collected from a passenger and transmitted to each facility from the aircraft via the Internet. Access to the Internet was gained via the cellular phone aboard the aircraft. Results: A total of 20 different simulated scenarios of an medical emergency condition were successfully transmitted, simultaneously, to all health care facilities. All data was received without any corruption with an average delay time of 1 s. Conclusions: Close monitoring of the patient can lead to a better understanding and assessment of a medical condition, improve in-flight patient care, accelerate the decision making process by making an early diagnosis, and correct a life-threatening condition before the patient arrives at the destination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • In-flight
  • Internet
  • Telemetry
  • Vital signs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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