Posted by: Marie | August 15, 2013

(853) Compassion for myself – Part 2 of 2

Post #853
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, May 19, 2012 – continued from previous post]

And, here’s what’s been happening . . .

I have around 45 students scheduled for this fall and maybe 35 students scheduled for this summer. That’s more students than I’ve ever had during a summer . . . and, my fall schedule is almost full and the start of the school year is still three months out from now. That’s pretty cool!

And . . . for some strange reason . . . I’ve been feeling the need to tell James and Cindy about a couple of times I’ve played a role in saving someone’s life . . . maybe because they both do that on a daily basis . . . and I feel like I want to share something in common with them . . . maybe that’s it . . .

But, anyway . . . yesterday (Friday) was the last day of school, so Cindy and Sara came in for Sara’s lesson right after school let out at noon. They weren’t in a hurry . . . neither was I . . . so we sat and visited for quite a while after Sara’s lesson. And, during that time, I told my stories to them . . .

I told them about the time I did the Heimlich maneuver on a family member after he choked at a restaurant . . . and I told them about the time my sister (the one in the dream), her teenage son and I were flying from Denver to Orlando and a guy on the plane went into diabetic shock . . .

Photo by Martin Chen

Photo by Martin Chen

He was seated in the last row of the plane . . . the lady next to him realized that he was fading in and out of consciousness and told the flight attendant . . . the flight attendant asked for help from anyone with a medical background . . .

I was an EMT 20 years ago . . . so I have a little bit of training and experience, but I was watching to see if someone with more relevant expertise would step forward . . . no one did . . . so, I went back to help . . . I figured my little bit of expertise was better than none . . .

Some of the nearby passengers stated that he had told them he was a diabetic and that they had seen him binging on junk food before he got on the plane . . . so, that gave me a pretty good idea what was going on . . .

We moved the children who were sitting nearby to other seats . . . and it turns out the lady sitting next to him was a phlebotomist, and the guy sitting in the seat in front of him was a dentist . . . but neither of them felt comfortable taking command of the situation . . . well, I’m good at that part of it . . . so, that’s what I did.

I found oxygen in the first aid kit and asked the dentist to give the guy
oxygen and monitor his vitals . . . and, I told my sister (who also used to be an EMT) to dig around in his bag to see if we could find his glucose testing kit. My sister found that his kit had no test strips.

So, I had the flight attendant get on the intercom and ask the passengers for a blood glucose test kit . . . someone brought one to us. I asked the phlebotomist to check his blood sugar. And, I found some glucose in the first aid kit, so I told the dentist to give it to him after they got a baseline blood glucose reading but before he went totally unconscious . . .

The guy was a really big guy . . . tall and rotund . . . and he was combative . . . and every time the phlebotomist tried to prick his finger, he would come up out of the seat, yelling and swinging . . . it was getting pretty dangerous . . .

About then, this big, physically fit, military-looking guy showed up and offered to help . . . I asked him what skill he had to offer . . . he said he was “a bouncer type of guy.” (He later told my sister that he was an off-duty air marshal on vacation with his family). So, I told him to be prepared to man-handle the diabetic guy if he got combative . . . otherwise, stay out of the way.

By then, I knew that the diabetic guy was in serious trouble . . . I asked the flight attendant how much time we had left before we landed . . . she said about 90 minutes. I knew there was no way this guy was going to stay alive that long. So, I told the attendant that we had to land and get him medical treatment.

Her eyes got very large and round . . . and she said, “Well, I’ll let you talk to the captain about that . . . ”

She dialed the intercom phone and handed it to me . . . I told the captain what was happening and that we had maybe 15-20 minutes before he would be totally unconscious and maybe another 20-30 before he would be dead . . . and that, given his size, it would be nearly impossible to do CPR on him for long enough to land in Orlando. The captain asked for his vitals and the signs I was observing . . . and he said he would get back to me as soon as he knew something.

A few minutes later, the flight attendant handed me the intercom phone again . . . it was the captain, of course. He told me that an Air National Guard base in Memphis, Tennessee had given him clearance to land and that we would be on the ground within 20 minutes. He also told me to prepare for a rough landing as the runway was about 2,000 feet shorter than what is recommended for the type of airplane we were in . . . but, it was doable . . . it just wouldn’t be smooth or gentle.

I told him which exit would be the best for taking the guy off the plane and what equipment they would need . . . and I told him to make sure they had their biggest EMS folks come onto the plane because they were going to need all the muscle they had to get him off the plane . . . he was either going to be unconscious or combative . . . either way, he was going to be a handful . . .

We didn’t have time to put all the first aid equipment back into the proper places, so the flight attendant just threw everything into the bathroom and latched the door. I had been holding the oxygen tank since I wasn’t moving around . . . the flight attendant told my sister and the “bouncer” to sit on the floor in the food service area . . . and I stayed in the aisle . . . she told us to brace ourselves . . . she told me to keep the oxygen bottle tucked between my legs . . .

I looked at her and asked if that was legal . . . she kind of grinned and said, “Well, we don’t have time to get everyone back in their seats, and you all need to stay with this man in order to keep him alive . . . and, we’ve already broken so many laws at this point that I don’t think a few more broken laws are going to matter . . .”

Well . . . the attendant had forgotten to lock the beverage cart in place – and it weighs about 300 pounds – and it rolled towards my sister during the landing. She raised her feet and leg-pressed it to keep it off of herself. The “bouncer” guy helped pull it away from her, but he told her he was impressed with her reaction and her strength . . .she told him it had been pure adrenaline!

Anyway, long story short . . . we landed . . . and the diabetic guy was able to walk off the plane with minimal assistance because the dentist had gotten glucose in him . . . although he was incredibly angry that he was being unceremoniously dumped in Memphis.

As I watched the big, muscular EMS guys take him off the plane, I allowed my focus to expand from the few square feet around this guy to a bigger picture . . . I allowed my eyes to follow the EMS guys out of the plane and down the mobile stairs . . . and what I saw was a sea of flashing red and blue lights . . . a multitude of emergency response vehicles . . . dozens of people in uniform standing around . . .

That’s when the full impact of what I had “ordered” hit me . . . wow . . . this really was a big deal . . .

Anyway . . . I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork documenting my actions, and the captain was on the phone trying to figure out what paperwork needed to be filled out so the military base could be reimbursed for fuel they provided for the plane’s refueling. (Now that was a hilarious conversation to overhear!)

I found out later that, while we were on the runway in Memphis, my nephew called my brother-in-law (who was planning to pick us up at the airport in Orlando) and calmly announced that we were going to be late landing in Orlando. My brother-in-law was confused . . . he chided my nephew for using his cell phone during the flight . . .

Nephew: Oh, we aren’t in the air; we’re on the ground.

Brother-in-law: How can you be on the ground? You aren’t supposed to land for another hour!

Nephew: We are on the ground in Memphis.

Brother-in-law: Wait . . . what? Why in the world are you in Memphis?

Nephew: Because Aunt Marie made them land the plane at an Air National Guard base . . .

Quotes 763


  1. He he. What a story. You are a hero Marie!

    • That depends upon whom you ask! LOL

  2. Congratulations on the business going so well.

    And that is a great story!

    • Thank you for the kudos, Evan!

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