Is There a Doctor on the Plane (aka Is your life worth $7)?

Pretzel Plane

Pretzel Plane from Voices Magazine

I was flying from Philadelphia to San Francisco this Tuesday.

As usual, I was in the no-food,no movie,no blanket coach section of the airplane.

Naturally, all the seats were fully occupied, which is always great after the 12 hours flight from Tel Aviv to Phili.

After about one hour on the way, the young guy in the middle seat started acting weirdly.

He started kicking the gentlemen in the Aisle seat and moved his hand towards my face.

Than he started sweating and crying and his eyes rolled over and he stopped responding.

We immediately called the crew, opened up the seat belts and tried to communicate with him.

The crew tried to find a doctor , but there was no medical professional on our flight.

Luckily, the guy was breathing and after couple of minutes he became regained consciousness , but was still really shaken up.

It was a lot like an opening scene in House.

I was quite worried as we had 4.5 hours to go and we had no idea what happened,if it is going to happen again etc.

The main crew person asked him a few question and came to the conclusion that he did not have a heart attack. Which makes sense for a 26 years old person, but still….

Since landing the plane is very expensive , he said we have nothing to do but continue the flight and asked both of us ( the neighbors ) to watch him for the rest of the flight.

The poor guy told me he was very stressed towards a job interview and he had no sleep or food for a few days. He asked the crew for something to eat.

[Here comes the amazing part]

The Steward told him : “We only have pretzels !!!” . and she brought him three little  pretzels bags…

Since I had the cheese and fruit selection for $7 ,20 minutes before, I was quite sure she is not 100% accurate.

Maybe what she meant was : “Not only we will risk your life because landing the plane in the middle would cost us $5000 we can’t even afford $7 to save your life”.

Luckily , the guy was well enough to get his credit card and buy some food for himself, instead of relying on the common sense of the crew.

I do have a feeling an Israeli crew would have handled the situation better.

Obviously , I did not sleep for the rest of the flights as I had a patient to watch. The passengers at the back row wanted me to ask him a few questions to see that he remembers his name and basic facts. I guess watching  House makes us all pseudo-experts.

Even when we landed, there was no doctor waiting for him at the gate, as one would expect. He did some much better and I hope he is well now

Lessons Learned:

  •  It has been 20 years since my last CPR course, maybe it is time to renew
  •  Eat and sleep well before interviews
  •  Watching House does not make you a doctor
  •  Don’t trust your life with airlines that begin with “U”


One Response to “Is There a Doctor on the Plane (aka Is your life worth $7)?”

  1. Einat Lev Says:

    Oh thanks… just what I wanted to hear before getting on a plane to Melbourne, Australia!!
    Anyways, perhaps he had a minor epileptic episode or a diabetic hypo? once at the grocery store a guy fell down and started shaking and spitting… I can assure you that everything I learned in CPR classes came right back, despite the 20 years that passed. I held him on his side using my knees, made sure he wasn’t choking and kept him from hitting obstacles. But the store’s staff was just fine — they called 911 right away, got him water and asked if he was diabetic and if he needed sugar. Other people also helped, and the paramedics and police was there very quickly.
    I hope the rest of your trip is less eventful!

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