Thursday, August 31, 2006
"Are There Any Medical Personnel on Board?"
... is a question you never really want to hear on a plane. But like a good internist I hit the call button and identified myself to the flight attendant. She walked me to the back of the plane, where I was confronted by an eleven-year-old boy in the throes of a grand mal seizure.
Here's a dirty little secret. Seizures aren't that scary. Spectacular, yes, but not scary... if you've seen them before. Basically you protect the person's head and airway as best you can and wait for the seizure to end. By the time I got back there, there was an EMT (paramedic) who was restraining the boy and lifting him onto the row of seats. I busied myself trying to get a history from the parents, who were understandably very upset. Briefly, there was nothing wrong with him.
The flight proceeded to Toronto without further incident. As soon as we landed, the boy and his parents were taken off straight to an ambulance.
I've never before been a passenger on a plane where there was a medical emergency, although I used to work in a medical clinic at San Francisco International Airport and was frequently called out to arriving planes where there'd been an emergency on board. It's a bit different when you're actually on the plane.
I'm writing this from a public library in Stratford, Ontario, so will have to sign off as my time is about to run out. More later.