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When a First Class Passenger Responds to a Medical Emergency

When a First Class Passenger Responds to a Medical Emergency

This flight is part of my trip to Melbourne through Hong Kong and Macao:

So in my previous post, I posted about how my wife was flying first class on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Hong Kong. Sometime in the early morning (local time, Chinese time zone), there was a medical issue on board. The flight attendants were talking about in the galley behind first class and my wife went and asked about it as she is currently a primary care resident in Boston. Earlier on the flight, a first class passenger was complaining about a chest cold. My wife was really hoping that it wasn’t that lady requesting medical assistance.

The flight attendants quickly told her that it wasn’t the passenger in first class, but that a woman in coach was having chest pains. She quickly went to the passenger and asked her a bunch of questions. Surprisingly there was no other passenger on board who was a doctor, or wanted to admit was a doctor. There was a medical student on board and came over to assist. My wife asked him to take his vitals while she evaluated what was available in the medical kit onboard.

My wife wanted to check the woman’s blood sugar level. She found the test strips, but not the machine to measure the sugar level. Not useful at all. She quickly noted that there wasn’t much in this medical kit. The flight attendants and the pilot later commented that they had just changed companies that stocks the medical kit and there was a lot to be desired with this new company.

My wife went back to the passenger, recommended she take some pills and drink some juices to make sure her blood sugar wasn’t low. From her other vitals, the woman seemed to be ok but my wife wasn’t exactly sure what happened to her earlier. During this whole time, my wife had to walk back and forth on the plane and confer with the flight attendants and also speak to Cathay Pacific’s medical adviser on the phone. They both agreed on the recommendations for the passenger and the diagnosis. Luckily the woman seemed to be doing better after the medicine.

Now this is the part where most frequent fliers would only dream of: She got asked to speak to the captain in the cockpit. My wife made her 15th trip across the length of the plane to speak with the captain. She updated the captain on the status of the passenger and said it wasn’t urgent enough to divert the flight. At this time, the flight was over the Mongolian dessert so my wife got to see the mountains. So was so tempted to take a selfie in the cabin but she decided against it. It was also early in the morning so you can see out of the cockpit. The captained offered to upgrade my wife to a better seat and asked where she was sitting. She responded “2D.” The captain was a bit surprised with the answer and said that he couldn’t upgrade her as she was already in first class.

So this is what happens when a doctor gets asked to help with a medical issue onboard. Luckily it wasn’t something more serious.

Are there any other doctors who had to respond to a medical emergency on a longhaul flight? Did you get offered an upgrade?

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