Dramatic In-Flight Crisis Mobilizes ER Nurse

Christine Wiebe, MA


May 02, 2018

Last week on a cross-country flight, a flight attendant appeared ill and locked herself in the lavatory near my seat. After several minutes, two other flight attendants began knocking on the door to check on her, and over time the knocking turned to pounding as they yelled for her to come out.

The pilot announced that we were beginning our descent, so they feverishly began to pry the door open with a corkscrew. Soon we could see that the flight attendant had passed out on the floor.

As her body fell into the aisle, one of the flight attendants began waving his arms and calling for a doctor. Two women seated nearby stood up and identified themselves as doctors, leaning into the aisle to get a view of the woman on the floor.

Suddenly, another woman came barreling down the aisle. "I'm an ER nurse!" she shouted. "Get out of the way!" She lunged to the floor and called for the emergency kit, which someone went scurrying to retrieve. Meanwhile, one of the doctors nervously told the other, "I'm a dermatologist; I have no idea what to do..."

Within minutes, the nurse had started an IV, was monitoring the patient's pulse and blood pressure, and had passengers scouring the kit for insulin, naloxone, and other potential remedies while the plane touched down. Soon, emergency technicians were on board, wheeling away the flight attendant for follow-up care.

Then they were gone, and the entire plane was silent as the nurse returned to her seat. Finally, a nervous voice came over the intercom: "Everyone, you may now deboard the plane." The applause for the nurse was instantaneous, prolonged, and grateful.

That story has special meaning during Nurses Week, a time for recognizing and honoring the contributions of our nation's nurses. We'd love to hear your favorite "nurse story," whether it involved a colleague at work or a caregiver when you were a patient, or even if you were just a witness to an extraordinary event like I was. Tell us in the comments section and we will share some of the best stories in a future article on Medscape.


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