How Do We Handle Medical Emergencies In Space?

If you’re on your way to Mars you can’t exactly
turn around if your stomach hurts, or if you cut your finger. How DO we solve medical emergencies in space? Hey gang, Trace here with your DNews Weekly
Space Update. Astronauts are REALLY far from Emergency Rooms
and hospitals if a health crisis comes up. As of now, only 24 people have left low-earth-orbit,
we’ve not spent much time away from the cradle of humanity. But, we are planning missions to Mars and
elsewhere in deep space, and we need to figure this stuff out before we can go safely. Of the around 540 people who have been to
space, most of the medical issues have been due to space sickness, but there have incidence
of arrhythmia — irregular heartbeat, renal colics — or kidney stones, and infections. Luckily, no one has been TOO badly injured
yet. Most injuries actually occur during takeoff
or landing. Of those, the most common is a near-syncopal
episode due to orthostatic hypotension… or passing out from low blood pressure. Of course, all of this has been based on the
HISTORY of space travel; the FUTURE is going to see a whole different set of issues. Chronic illness, trauma, injury, and maybe
even unknown medical conditions, not to mention the psychological strains! According to a study from the University of
York in Canada, emergency incidents occur at about 0.06 per person, per year in the
general population. So, for a two-and-a-half year trip to Mars,
with seven crewmembers, the math says we WILL HAVE one emergency. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what
that emergency will be, so we’ll just have to prepare for everything. The space shuttle would always have two crew
medical officers trained in first aid and a Shuttle Orbiter Medical System to deal with
pre-planned issues. The CMOs were trained in dealing with minor
illnesses and injuries. They could give injections, provide medications
and antibiotics and even stitch their fellow crewmember up! On the International Space Station, the Routine
and Emergency Medical Operations Manual lists what to do for scrapes, nausea, broken bones,
ulcers, infections, burns and even how to handle space-based pregnancy tests. They have the equipment to deal with it all,
but bleeding in space isn’t the same as on Earth. Without gravity, blood droplets could float
into eyes, mouths and equipment and even small arteries could spurt fluids. As we venture deeper into space, surgery is
GOING to happen, and it could be a HUGE mess. A neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh came up with
the idea of putting a fluid-filled dome over an open, bleeding wound. The water pressure and surface tension could
stem the bleeding until a surgeon could sew it closed. It’s been built and will be put through a
final test on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, once it gets running. But before you cut someone open, modern doctors
need to know what they’re going to find in there. This month, A group of Stanford students tested
a portable ultrasound machine in microgravity on the famed, “Vomit Comet,” a special 747
that lets people simulate microgravity by flying in a parabola. The ultrasound works fine here on the ground,
but in space because of microgravity, things behave differently. This means they need to test it and alter
the design or parameters so it will work properly. The lead student told Popular Science astronauts
will need everything we have on a ground-based ER available to them in space. And they’ll need to make sure they all work
properly. It’s a big job. There are other things being implemented and
tested in the years leading up to our deep space missions. They’re testing communications uplinks, so
astronauts can confer with doctors on the ground and medical devices to use in case
of everything they can think to plan for. The portable ultrasound machine works great,
by the way, so hopefully they’ll have that one to check off the list. Are you worried about hurting yourself in
space? Tell us about it in the comments and maybe
we’ll make an episode about it! Thanks for watching DNews, subscribe for more.


  1. It's extraordinarily annoying when he uses the word "we" every time. "We" are not going to space; "We" don't solve these medical emergencies in it.

  2. But what if there is a non-human disease that will wreck with the same force as smallpox on say… Mars?

  3. That I go up there with a fat person. What if she/he is so fat this fat person starts creating It's own gravity and I get thrown into the fattie, and before you know it, the rocks, ship parts, other stuff will also and there you get a new planet. But then it wont become so big, also It's freezing, so probably ice…maybe the humans in the core will disappear after a while…hmm…. well It's probably not gonna be a planet cuz It's to small…wait…PLUTO?!

  4. The possibly of space germs D=
    Finding life such as microorganisms, n being exposed to them, what will they do to are body's?

  5. Space fears… Suit leaking (losing air) while on mission in the outer-space.. not getting along with fellow astronauts. And wondering whether or not migraines are treatable in space.

  6. Lots a converted 707 . If they would have operation in space they can have it in a special room where it's rotating . The rotation will generate an outwords acceleration simulating gravity .

  7. Space has alot of risk.. So you can't be intimidate by the risk. Pluse risk is a human thing we do all the time

  8. how about we have a machine linked with earth with a robotic arm that allows for master surgeons to do the job of a doctor in transit in say a med pod or something

  9. I wonder if we would bitch out knowing that someone would die. Like in the old days when you were on a ship for years and maybe had to fight natives, you just knew at least someone had to die.

  10. Space is contrary to life. We have to take our atmosphere with us. And protect against what the earth does for us. Space is nature, and nature is deadly.

  11. Why are we only having crew members trained in first aid on board missions? (Unless I misunderstood….) It sounds like their MOs are trained to the same degree as, say, a LPN is here on the ground.

    Crew members usually come from an array of scientific backgrounds…. Why not bring along an actual trained and experienced MD who has experience working with trauma, surgery, pathology, psychiatry/psychology, general medicine and, for long missions such as the mission to Mars,
    obstetrics? It only makes sense!

    Long term space travel will give us an amazing chance to study the effects that space has on the human body! There are so many question marks behind SO many scenarios that it only makes sense to have a crew member with the expertise mentioned above. I think that all crew members should undergo basic first aid training. If every crew member had the same skill set as MOs, we'd likely see a higher mission success rate with fewer casualties and/or injuries, healthier crew members and a general sense of heightened physical safety and security.

    When we talk about the mission to Mars… That is some serious business! It's absolutely exhilarating and spectacular, but, at the same time, anyone taking part would have to have some anxiety concerning the various "What Ifs"….Having the entire crew well versed in emergency care and an on-board medical specialist would probably alleviate some of that stress and fear. (I know it would for me!)

    Having such a crew member would also allow for a full study on the effects of long durations of time in space on the human body, experimentation to find the safest and most effective first aid, surgical and procedural techniques in the environment. As all of that is being conducted, other crew members are free to pursue their various crew and research assignments.

  12. People going crazy on the surface of Mars. Can you do an episode on the mental state of astronauts on Mars.

  13. At least if you have a broken bone, you'll never put any weight on it; weightlessness could actually be a benefit.

  14. My biggest space fear is happening right now. Goverments gradualy shutting down the space programs because it's not "profitable" enough…

    What could be more valuable than knowledge..

  15. @xloppielx I dont think thats possible to make gravity strong enough for humans without
    Making a black hole

  16. I would hate experiencing a heart attack. I know that here is special medication which prevents a fatal heart attack, but on a mission that prevents you from returning to earth nobody can help you.

  17. As a 37 year old man, my biggest space fear, is that I'm going to be dead by the time we do all the cool stuff in space.  Go to Mars.  Have a colony on the moon or Mars, or visit one of the gas giants and/or their moon.  

    I don't know that we will ever do intergalactic space travel, we'll probably kill off our species before that happens.  But It's gonna suck missing that as well. 

  18. Doesn't one of those medical manuals say that, if somebody goes crazy up there, you are supposed to duct tape them to the wall? Is there anything that can't be fixed using duct tape

  19. Why not just create artificial gravity, gosh, it's been in movies for years. 🙂

    My biggest space fear is getting massive diarrhea combined with a bad backup in the toilet system. Just imagine, how horrible that would be. 

  20. Pregnancy in space?
    I don't think that is a good idea at all,
    a serious emergency.
    The fetus will probably not develop right.
    Don't they get tested before launch?

  21. My biggest fear would be the space ship malfunctioning. As long as everything works as intended, I don't see any reason to be afraid. 

  22. My biggest space fear is that we get to involved in bullshit here on earth and dont focus on spaces tech untill its to late and we go extinct.

  23. okay. so , my space fear is going out to fix something that broke on  the ship, and getting un-hooked. and that leads to the other part of my fear. floating in space . attached to nothing. dying in space will be verry scary while free floating to who knows where in space. and the thought of your body floating on till it gets burned from stars or atmosphere form planets or slammed into rocks is scary. well, thats my fear.

  24. Biggest Space fear. That we will never colonize space in a self sustainable manor  before human resources on earth give out. We are running out of time. try to imagine colonizing space without using fossil fuels for example. It can be done but it will take soo much longer.

  25. My greatest fear of space is the shear fact that it is nothing and an endless unexplored wasteland as far as we know. All I can imagine is falling into that deep darkness forever… depressing 🙁

  26. the vomit comet is a 707! NOT a 747! just because it has 4 engines doesnt make it a 747 (FYI the proper way to say 707 is 7-Oh-7)

  27. Biggest space fear is aliens. Although with NASA working on a Hyper drive, and revealing the concept ship The IXS Enterprise, we may very well soon be the aliens.

  28. My worst fear? The outside window cracking/breaking……

    Oh yeah, and I imagine that by the time deep space missions become a regular thing we will have figured out how to create artificial gravity on the spacecraft. 

  29. My biggest fear in space would be probably my biggest fear here on mother earth….. Diarrhea yea thats the fuel of nightmares. now imagine being outside ISS spacewalking and suddenly getting a bad case of the shitz.

  30. Well…. if bleeding is a problem how are menses handled outside of the atmosphere!? Now I'm curious 😀

  31. Biggest space fear running out of fuel energy and food in the middle of space perhaps between plantets

  32. Screw crew medical officers. A proper chief medical officer is what they need! And an EMH. Just in case. 

  33. Duh. just make surgeons play surgeon simulator 2013 they will get all the medical training they need. p.s theres even a space mission

  34. Dam Idont wanna CUT MY HAND OR Break a Bone If i break a bone in space i am alot more likey TO DEI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. this is how America is going to shit. prepaire the the unexpected. But little do they know the crisis came from their preparation for the worst. or like anyone can own a gun for self defense. every year in the murder injury or death is from guns and U.S. is always growing and on top of the list. too smart for our own big American heads.

  36. Who are "we" in the video title and am I included? Why do I have to ask these questions? Couldn't you have titled the video as "How Are Medical Emergencies Handled in Space?" to prevent the annoying "we"-passive?

  37. my bigest fear is going to space what if I dont make it I stead the rocket would just blow up in mid air and I will be falling then die and I am also afriad of the speed I dont like roller coaster so going to space is going to be 100x worse and the last thing I am going to be afriad of what if the door to the rpcket opened and the oxygen goes out and I will be sitting this choking and gasping for air

  38. You don't handle medical emergencies in space cause no one from this planet has never been in space, and never planned to. NASA is a fraud, a scam and a fake space program, so is JPL and now space x. Niether one of these fake space agencies are real, they exist just for show.

    They don't know the 1st thing about space, musch less sending 24 people. Nobody or actornots "actor astronauts" would dare risk their life, it's sousidal. And a trip to Mars won't never ever happen you can forget it, were to primativehistory in technology.

    It's billion of miles from their thinking of even having the idea of such missions. 24 people in space is a myth, these fake programs are just to keeps us hoping and dreaming. Forget about NASA their fake like Godzilla, all astronauts are just actors, from fake moon landings, shuttle missions to the ISS has been a theater show, nothing more.

  39. nobody who is ever watching this video has everbeen to space to share their biggest sapce fears it is simply pointless 🤔

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