Qantas has the reputation of being very good in a crisis and the airline has proved itself again. Luck came into it too – a doctor and a critical-care nurse (whose work is mainly with heart patients) happened to be aboard a flight on which a passenger suffered an apparent heart attack.
The drama happened on a flight from Perth to Sydney. A woman travelling with her husband asked for help when her husband, who seemed initially to be napping, broke out into a sweat and his hands began twitching.
A report in the West Australian described how cabin crew, assisted by the trained medical staff travelling aboard, swung into action. The doctor and nurse, who work together at Mount Hospital in Perth – were coincidentally travelling on the same flight.
Nurse Sharon Charsley could find no pulse or blood pressure but the team quickly got to work, giving the man oxygen and putting him on a drip.
“We need to land this plane,” Charsley told cabin crew.
The man rested in the galley, receiving expert care while the plane turned back and landed. The patient was transferred immediately by ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital.
There, tests found that the patient’s blood pressure had dropped suddenly on the flight for reasons unknown. It wasn’t a heart attack or stroke. The man is aged 44 and has a history of medical problems.
Nurse Charsley praised the way the flight attendants gave immediate help, saying that without their quick response the victim might have stopped breathing.
Written by Peter Needham