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Lou Vega a thump to the brain
An odd thing happened during both the flight to Seattle and the flight back from Seattle last week…each flight had a medical in-flight emergency (IFE). The reason I say it’s odd is because I’ve been flying for more than 30 years (yeah so I just aged myself) and in all those years I only remember 1 other time we had an IFE during a transatlantic flight from Aviano,  Italy to JFK in New York – we had to make an emergency stop in Reykjavík, Iceland (which incidentally is a twin city to Seattle) due to fuel system problems. We all got off the plane (in the middle of the night) and then later got on board another plane and continued our flight.
Well this time was a little different. During the trip out to Seattle, about 2 hours into the flight I saw one of the attendants running back toward my seat…I was seated in the very back right next to all the medical equipment. She grabbed an oxygen tank and then another one came back and grabbed the AED. I watched as they ran up about 12 rows ahead and then an announcement came over the aircraft PA – asking if a doctor, nurse or medical personnel were on board. Turns out there was a doctor and a nurse. Seems a woman about 12 rows up was having a seizure of some sort. They were able to stabilize her and the rest of the flight continued without incident. I landed in Seattle thinking, “Wow – good thing there was a doctor on board….but then again, how often does this happen?”
Well I found out on my return trip. This time we were only 40 mins to an hour into the flight when a woman in the row behind me started being really restless and asking for help. Her husband rang for the flight attendant and then I heard the announcement come across again asking if there was a doctor aboard the flight. Turns out this time there were two doctors, a nurse and a medical student. The doctors determined this woman was having a heart attack and next thing I know the captain makes an announcement that we’re diverting to Denver to get medical attention for this woman. About 2 minutes later it appeared that Denver was too far away and we started a REALLY fast descent to Billings, Montana. It was pushing 2AM, it was snowing, and the terminal was closed for the night but we made a super speedy (and safe I might add) descent to Billings Airport and the EMT and Fire department personnel boarded the plane, took the woman off and rushed her to the hospital.
While we were stranded on the ground awaiting a refueling and de-icing (they had to wake the de-icer crews and get them to haul tail to the airport – they had all went home for the night) I was thinking that this woman’s life was probably saved by being able to get to a hospital – even though we were flying at the time…and also thinking it’s real good this didn’t happen on a transatlantic or transpacific flight since you can’t really bring it down anywhere quick.

I also got to thinking about whether this is more common than I thought…ok, ok there’s some of you reading this saying “I’m not getting on any flight Lou is booked on!” but seriously – has anyone else had this happen? Does it happen a lot? I had it happen twice within a 5 day period so I’m guessing that’s not the norm.
Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2007 9:05 PM Non-Technical | Back to top

Comments on this post: In flight Emergency (ok - so two IFE's)

# re: In flight Emergency (ok - so two IFE's)
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It happened to me once on a Flight to Santiago from Miami. We landed in Peru and the EMT rushed in and took someone off to the airport. But that's the only one in about 100 flights in the last 5 years.

Left by ET on Dec 05, 2007 9:36 AM

# re: In flight Emergency (ok - so two IFE's)
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At least again you course brought you over land and not too far from it. Can't imagine what they do on a transoceanic flight...or say a flight over sparsely populated areas.
Left by Lou on Dec 06, 2007 8:38 AM

# re: In flight Emergency (ok - so two IFE's)
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I was on a British Airways flight from Dubai to heathrow on Monday. We had just reached cruising altitude when we heard an emergency announcement. I awoke my sleeping husband (who immediatelt fastened his seatbelt) and we were told that we were about to make an emergency landing....ON WATER....(At 38,000 feet!!!!) we were reminded of the location of the lifejackets and asked to adopt the brace position when instructed to do so. We were warned of potentially more than just one jolt....
Then the voice of the head of cabin crew came over the PA.... "Sorry, this is not the case....the announcement went off as a result of an on-board computer re-boot"
Surely, this was an avoidable mistake? One that caused a great deal of distress. Anyone of a fragile disposition could have died of shock.
% days on we have yet to hear from BA. It will be a while until I fly again...
Left by Anon on Jan 17, 2009 6:49 PM

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