Drama in the air for experienced team Call Out List member Mark Parry

Some years ago now, our current Life Vice President (He was our Chairman at the time) Tony McNally was returning home from holiday on a flight from Palma / Majorca inbound to Manchester, when over the aircrafts tannoy came a request for any Doctor on board to respond to an in flight medical emergency to a passenger. No one responded (i.e. no Doctors on board) leading to Tony offering his help as a casualty care trained mountain rescuer. Tony’s offer was immediately taken up and he ended up (Being assisted by the cabin crew) treating and monitoring a woman passenger who had suffered a suspected stroke.

The aircrafts Captain even enquired directly of Tony at one stage should he divert the flight to the nearest available airport, but with the woman’s condition stabilised and on Oxygen it was decided to carry on and land at Manchester. (Where the woman passenger was received in to the immediate care of the Ambulance Service upon the aircrafts landing)

On Sunday 25th July 2010, on an in bound Manchester flight, co-incidentally again from Palma / Majorca, history repeated itself, this time with a similar situation for experienced team Call Out List member Mark Parry.

Returning from a family holiday on a Thomson flight, scheduled to land at Manchester at 12.30hrs, a tannoy message asked for any Doctors on board to respond to an in flight medical emergency to a young passenger.

With no immediate response, Mark Parry of Bury, an Implementations Manager with Connect Technology Group of Blackburn, and a very experienced team member volunteered his services, which were taken up.

There follows below Mark’s account of what happened. Please note this account has been written by Mark primarily from a medical treatment standpoint for the benefit of fellow team members, to illustrate how our skills and knowledge may be called upon at any time. By Mark’s own admission this account does not fully describe the drama of what happened, nor the very real concerns for the well being of the very young child involved.

“On the return flight from my Hols (which were nice BTW) I noticed a bit of a commotion just in front of me on the aisle. There was then a call for any Doctors over the intercom. I told the flight attendant who happened to be getting an oxygen cylinder out of a box above my head that I was part of a voluntary mountain rescue team. She told me that a child had collapsed and had stopped breathing. After moving some people out of the way, I was presented with a small child 1 to 2 years old, lay on her side on the aisle floor.

After checking her airway and breathing, both of which appeared fine, I struggled to find a radial pulse. A check of her carotid pulse gave a nice big bounding pulse approx 75 bpm. After rechecking her radial pulse, I found it after about 3-4 seconds, its much smaller and finer (duh).

I checked with dad and he told me that she had been crying for 10 mins or so, and had then just gone limp in his hands at which point he placed her on the floor and shouted for help. I asked if there had been any kind of fit or strange behaviour that would suggest a fit, he told me there had been none, just crying then limp.

After a double check, there were nothing to suggest any issues for moving her, so I popped her in the recovery position, and had a good listen, my ear on her back, and she was breathing quite well, albeit a little fast(30-40 breaths per minute). There was no sign of any circulatory problems or cyanosis and she did not respond to a gentle shake and shout. On the AVPU scale she was U as a rather hefty squeeze of her ear lobe gave no response. I checked with dad and he explained that this had happened before, and that previously she had come round after a few minutes.

A short time later, I noticed that she was starting to come around, her eyes would open momentarily, but she would still not respond to pain or remain awake. I asked if the aircrafts first aid kit carried a glucometer and I was told that it did not, it also turns out that the oxygen that the plane carried was not free flow, it had a demand valve on it, which given the size of the child was pretty much useless as she could not create enough suction to open the valve.

A lady then identified herself as a paediatrician, and offered to help. I explained my observations, and that I expected she would be coming round within a few minutes. We decided to move her from the floor to the galley some 10 metres away, and after checking with dad again that she could not have done any structural damage picked her up to move her.

Just as I was standing having picked her up and started walking toward the galley she came round and let go with the crying again, happy that she was back with us, and unsure of the aftercare I handed over to the Doctor and went back to my seat.

What could I have done differently?

O2 was the big one, I spent a little too long wondering why there was no flow, the big bag on the back of the mask was a bit of a giveaway.

Blood sugar. Having no glucometer, I could not decide if getting some sugar in as she came round would have been a good idea or indeed possible. (Afterwards I realised that a request for such could have been put out over the planes tannoy )”

So it’s a situation that many perhaps ’joke’ about happening but very few have experienced thankfully. By the time the aircraft landed the young child had apparently made a full recovery, which did not detract from the seriousness of what had happened.

So from all your team colleagues Mark, a very big well done.