Two HV Congressmen Say It's Time To Update Planes' Medical Supplies For Kids

May 18, 2017

Two New York congressmen from the Hudson Valley are introducing legislation to upgrade the available emergency medical supplies for children on airplanes. A pediatrician association supports the bill.

Republican Congressman John Faso and Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney say the Airplane Kids in Transit Safety, or KiTS, Act, to ensure that planes carry child-size doses of emergency medicine and provide suitable equipment, is long overdue. Here’s Faso, who represents the 19th District.

“Well, we’re very anxious to address the concern of parents with their children on flights that, if there is an emergency, a medical emergency, for those children, many of the medical kits that airlines are required by the FAA to maintain on their commercial flights, those kits may not actually be suitable for children in all instances,” Faso says.

Instances, says the 18th District’s Maloney, like severe allergic reactions.

“And it’s very important when you realize that about 9 percent of kids have food allergies and about 40 percent of those kids have had serious allergic reactions. Because when that happens in the air, it’s a big deal,” Maloney says. “My own brother has a very serious allergy to peanuts, and I can remember as a kid how ordinary situations could turn into a life-threatening event very quickly. And if that happens when you’re at 30,000 feet, you can imagine, as a parent, how critical it is that the airline have in place a medical kit that can address that emergency.”

Faso gives another example.

“Many infants certainly and young children cannot swallow pills. So, if a youngster is afflicted with a high fever, for instance, you might need a liquid type of Tylenol as opposed to a pill form,” Faso says. “So those are the kind of practical, inexpensive suggestions that we hope will come out of this process, but the FAA needs to be pushed a little bit, and that’s what the legislation is intended to do.”

A spokeswoman says the Federal Aviation Administration does not comment on pending legislation. The bill, which Democrat Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced in the Senate Wednesday, has the backing of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Republican Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is co-sponsor. Maloney says emergency medical kits on planes have not been updated in some 20 years.

“We introduced this originally in the previous Congress. I don’t think it was prompted by a particular event. I think it’s something that we just discovered when we were looking at a bunch of different things in my capacity as a member of the Aviation Subcommittee,” says Maloney. “And we thought it was a gaping hole in how we address medical emergencies in flight.”

The third-term congressman says it’s the first piece of legislation he and Faso, a freshman, are introducing together. The two had harsh words for one another over the GOP health care bill passed earlier in May. Maloney held a health care town hall in Faso’s district as part of his Adopt a District challenge asking House representatives to step into Republican districts to explain the House bill to repeal Obamacare. On WAMC, Faso responded by calling Maloney a “cheap shot artist.” Here’s Faso now speaking to working together.

“Well, I’m hopeful that we can work together on a bipartisan basis on a lot of issues, and that doesn’t even exclude health care because the fact is is that look, there’s a lot of politics that goes on here and I’m trying to stay away from that. I mean I was just elected a few months ago,” says Faso. “And the tendency is to over-politicize everything in Washington. And that’s not what I was sent here to do. I was sent here to get a job done and that’s what I hope to accomplish.”

Maloney also intends to keep his hand extended across the aisle.

“Look, my job is to work with Congressman Faso in ways that help the Hudson Valley and I intend to do that in every area where we can. We have a strong disagreement on health care and I just think he blew it on the vote, but it’s not personal for me. We have a job to do to help the people we represent. I intend to keep working with him in every other way I can.”

Meanwhile, the Airplane KiTS Act would specifically require the FAA, within one year of enactment, to initiate a rulemaking process to update the requirements for emergency medical kits for children. Faso says the process would include input from experts in pediatric medicine.