Air RN

After long planning, my family of four finally got our feet on the airplane. I was flying to China and then Singapore for the 19th International Research Congress to present my research. I was happy that my family could join me for that. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Air RN

The food was tolerable; drinks were still free and the children were behaving. I was watching movies with periodically daydreaming about sitting in a first class seat...

Suddenly, the movie stopped, replaced by an announcement: "all passengers, if you are a medical doctor, please let us know. We need help."

I looked around, and hesitated. It was not a US company flight. The cabin was quiet. "maybe everything is ok now." I thought.

Then, I heard the announcement again. I took a deep breath, explained to my husband and kids, and stood up like a hero going to a war.

"I am a nurse and a nurse practitioner, can I help?" I introduced myself.

After giving the crew my name and work place, I was led to front cabin washroom. A middle age man was moaning and curled up on the floor. He is the co-pilot. He started experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sever abdominal pain about 30 minutes ago.

After obtaining necessary history and exam, I believe he suffered acute gastroenteritis likely from left over food he ate last night at home. A crew member communicated to the ground doctors about my assessment. He then asked me: "Do you think we have to land now? The closest airport was Anchorage, Alaska."

"Alaska? I have to decide?" I felt my body was heating up, and my breath was deeper. I am on an airplane! Luckily, I quickly calmed dawn. I assessed the patient again and checked the first aid kits available. I was happy that they have decent supplies of equipments and medicines.

I decided that he was stable enough to stay on. I was told I could give him iv gravol and iv fluid and repeat if needed. Before I could ask any questions, the ground doctor hung up. Gravol, what is that? I got my palm pilot out and found out it was Canadian brand name for dimenhydrinate. Talking about bring the resources with you!

The crew members helped me getting the patient up to the small and dark cabin that the pilots use to rest. The ceiling is about 4 feet tall. It has two chairs and a roughly full size bed. Both sides and the foot of the bed are against the walls.

The patient lay down with his feet in. I kneel on the floor and could barely see his face. He closed his eyes and moaned all the time. I've been teaching and working as a NP for the last few years. I haven't started an iv for a while.

Despite my nervousness, the instability of the plane and patient's reluctant to keep the arm straight, I was able to insert the catheter easily under a flush light. It took me longer time to figure out how to get the inlet out and connect the tubing because they were not US brand supplies.

Then I found there were no places that I could hang the iv bag! After being creative, handy and didn't have to break the air tight plane, I finally hung the bag on top of the ceiling by using rubber bands and gloves...I pushed the medicine.

The patient felt a little better about 20 minutes after he got the medicine and the fluid. I felt exhausted. It was around 2 am Eastern standard time. We were still 4-5 hours away from landing. I gave him another dose of dimenhydrinate and total 1500 ml of normal saline. He was stable and somewhat comfortable through out the journey. I stayed with him all the time, held his hand, and talked to him.

We landed in China on time. I talked to the local doctors in Chinese and told the patient where he would go and answered all his questions. By then, he was able to sit up, get dressed, shake hands with me and thank me.

He told me that was the first time he saw my face. He said my soft voice and the hand held got him through. It doesn't matter that you and your patient shared different culture background and nationalities, your patient can feel your heart.

I am proud to give my heart and share my skills and knowledge. The crew members treated me like a hero and gave me bottle of wine as a souvenir. It's just a little taste of first class. I shared my wine with my family and friends in China while I proudly shared my "heroic" experience with them.

We always say: once a nurse, always a nurse, no matter where and when. I had done some nursing rescue in supermarket, subway. But I had never thought that my first international nursing experience would be like this. I had a chance testing my knowledge and skills. I am proud to be a nurse and nurse practitioner.

When i came back to the us, i found the airline company rewarded me 10,000 flight miles. It feels nice that my work is acknowledged.

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Specializes in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele.

Wow, what a great story, thanks for sharing it with us. Those PDA's come in handy :) That's a flight you'll always remember.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Wow, good thinking!

Way to be creative!

Wow! Great Job!!!

Thanks for sharing you're wonderful story.

Those PDA do come in handy, thank God it is required for NS

I wonder what his most recent fortune cookie said....

so inspiring!

it makes me wanna study harder to learn lots of nursing knowledge and skills that if ever i would be in that situation..i could help and be called a hero!.

Specializes in Med/Surg,OR,Pain Management,Home Health.

Wow thanks for sharing such a wonderful and inspiring story, how great that you had the PDA!! I bet the next time you fly, you won't feel so nervous! Isn't it amazing how we are "always a nurse"?

wow, this is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing :)

Great story!! But I'll expose my ignorance. I have seen PDA's but just how much information is on them? Do you have to go to the Internet (available while on an airplane?) to connect to get data or preload what you want? Anyway, I want one!

Thanks for representing the heart of Nursing!!


Great story!! But I'll expose my ignorance. I have seen PDA's but just how much information is on them? Do you have to go to the Internet (available while on an airplane?) to connect to get data or preload what you want? Anyway, I want one!

Thanks for representing the heart of Nursing!!


You have a program (like a drug reference) downloaded onto the PDA and it can be updated periodically on the net. And you don't need internet to access the program

Specializes in Med/Surg, OB, Home Health/Hospice.

Glad you didn't hold back in fear you would be sued!

God Bless You!

An uplifting and inspirational story. Thank you for sharing it.