Thursday, February 28, 2013

Excuse Me, Is There a Doctor on This Flight?

I hate that page on the flight intercom.  I sit half a second hoping against hope five other people will stand up.  Usually there will be one other.  You hope.

This time, I sat at the back of the plane with a full view of everything.  The first page came on. "Is there a doctor on the plane?"  Silence.  Then the second page. "Is there a nurse or paramedic?"  I paused for a second hoping a "real nurse" would stand up.  None did.

I went forward.  My license is out of date so flight attendants don't like me, but when they have no choice, sometimes they have no choice.  This time they had little choice.  Then an EMT showed up.  He hadn't worked in years either.  It was just the two of us.

A lady was unconscious.  No information besides that she felt bad, asked her seatmate to call for help, and passed out.  She was out cold.

We got oxygen on.  Checked for a pulse.  Faint, not palpable in the extremities, but she's alive.  Breathing slightly.

They handed us the blood pressure cuff.  Then told us that no one, not even doctors could figure the thing out and they thought it was broken.  Great. 

I noticed a package of half opened crackers in front of her. Maybe she is diabetic?  We asked for the glucose monitor.  No.  We can't let you use that.  Only doctors are allowed to use that.  Hmpf.  I wonder if a doctor would even know how - that is a nursing task.  An EMT for sure would.  But no luck.  They can only give it to a doctor.

I wasn't taking an easy no.  I simply stood up and in my very best mom/teacher voice that can reach to the end of a crowded plane asked if there was a diabetic on board who might have a monitor we could borrow.  Ha.  Got one.  Used it.  Not a diabetic incident.  It was a relief to know something.  I think we shocked the flight attendants by going over heir head, but the EMT and I were going to do our best regardless of stupid rules.

We were descending, looking for the closest airport, ready to land anywhere when just as suddenly, she fluttered her hands, and moaned.  Then her eyes opened.  She spoke. 

Quickly we figured what must have happened.  A mistake in blood pressure medication.  She blacked out.  But she was alert and making sense.  We called off the emergency landing.  Our real landing was only half an hour away.  We requested priority clearance through the air traffic and an ambulance waiting on the tarmac.  And we stayed with her.  Afraid she might black out again upon descent.  She was fine.

They were waiting for us.  We landed without delay in one of the busier airports around, taxied straight to the gate in minutes, and there were the lights.  Briefed the ambulance on what had happened, and shipped her out to them.  She'll be fine.

Then we were stuck.  By the front door.  Our bags at the back.  And the crowd in the aisles.  We settled in for a long wait.  And everyone filed by.  And everyone said thank-you.  "You are heroes."  Shook our hands. We smiled. Said thank-you.  What do you tell them?  Actually, we did little.  We couldn't.  This plane has little functioning medical equipment.  We just waited.  She woke up.  That's all.

But it would slow the line down.  So we smiled.  Shook a few hands.  And waited for the crush to quit.

As we had boarded, the plane was over booked.  They wanted volunteers to stay behind.  This young EMT and I had volunteered.  We were sad that they found a place for us.  The extra money for waiting would have been nice.  We smiled as we waited.... glad each other was there and we didn't have to do this alone. Glad they found that last seat and brought him on board.

Because as much as we really did nothing, and she came to on her own with oxygen.... when you are up in the air at least 20 minutes away from help with an unconscious woman with barely a pulse and everyone is looking at you .... that's scary.  It's really scary.  It was good to have each other.  Four eyes are better than two.

1 comment:

Joyful said...

Wow! It sure is better to have four eyes rather that two. xx