Emergency On the airplane

Twice in the past year, I have been on an airplane where they have needed medical assistance. Before I was a nurse, I also traveled a lot and never once did I ever hear them page overhead for medical personnel. Both times this year that it happened they were both syncopal episodes. In each case the person passed out and hit their head on the wall and fell on the floor. This past time it was a young guy who had been drinking at the airport and then when we got up in the air he stood up to go to the bathroom and passed out. They paged overhead for medical staff. Hearing the interruption of the movie I was watching come through my headphones, I jumped out of my chair and went to the scene. There were two other medical staff heading there. We exchanged credentials quickly to determine who would respond as we were making the final steps toward the patient on the ground. One nurse said she was a labor and delivery nurse and the man said he was an infectious disease doctor. When I said that I was an ER nurse they pushed me forward and told me to take the reigns. The man on the ground had a pulse but he was pale and not responding. I lifted his legs up off the ground to restore blood flow and within seconds he opened his eyes and started talking. His pulse was in the 40’s so I figured he had a vasovagal episode. I kept his legs elevated to raise his BP and continued to get more info to find the cause. No nausea or vomiting. He was not a diabetic. No seizures, no past medical history for that matter. As I went through the questions with him his girlfriend stood by and said she felt so much better having a medical professional there who was remaining calm and “knows what she is doing”. The flight attendants stood around and offer help with whatever I needed. The guy began to talk more and I lowered his legs checked his pulse was blood pressure and it had come back up. He had no fever so it wasn’t a flu episode where he got dizzy and passed out and he wasn’t nauseous or anything like that. I gave him some orange juice just to rule out a blood sugar issue. His color began to come back and he felt better. He said that his only pain was his neck and his head from smashing it on the wall. Turns out the guy had been drinking at the airport and had not drank any water. He had not eaten anything either. He was very dehydrated. When you are dehydrated your blood pressure lowers easily. The infectious disease doctor stood by. He said I did a good job and asked me where I worked. Turns out we both work at The same hospital. Eventually we got the man back in his seat. Paramedics came to the gate as we landed the plane to get him off to check to make sure everything was okay. The flight attendants were very grateful and kept coming to my seat to thank me. They were very eager to bring me drinks! It was in that moment and the time previous which was pretty similar, that I really was finally proud of myself. I was proud of myself for getting a degree and for doing something I love. Working in emergency medicine I get a rush. The adrenaline that comes with helping people in a panic situation and remaining calm is very fulfilling. They say that not everyone can do that job but I’m glad that I’m somebody who can. I really do enjoy it and it really does give my life purpose. Experiences like that make me thankful that I went to nursing school and glad that I finished strong. Whatever you’re doing in life make sure that you love it because you will be fulfilled when you’re doing what you love.

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