Medical, Travel

Are There Any Medical Personnel On Board?

June 4, 2015

No one wants to hear this announcement on their flight, especially when you are the person the announcement is being made for! This is what happened to me on a flight from Washington, D.C., to Doha, Qatar. I had already been delayed getting back to Qatar because of a medical emergency in the US. I had been in the E.R. about five days prior and had traveled from D.C. to Dallas and back before getting on this flight. I wasn’t feeling great before I got on the plane, but not sick at all, just tired. I couldn’t get comfortable on the flight and didn’t sleep much. I was also really anxious about being on such a long flight after being in the E.R. so recently. This made the 12-and-a-half-hour flight even longer. I don’t remember when, but I started to sneeze and felt like I was getting a horrible cold. No big deal, just felt terrible.

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The real issue began about two hours before we were about to land. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. My asthma was kicking in! I haven’t had an asthma attack in years, so my inhalers were in my carry-on in the overhead compartment and not in my handbag under the seat in front of me. As I was desperately trying to get to them, a flight attendant saw me and I must have looked scared out of my wits, as she asked me if I was okay and I shook my head no. She helped me get my suitcase down and told me to sit still and that she would be back. That is when I heard the announcement.

Fortunately for me, I think there were four doctors on the plane, including one in the seat in front of me! Although he ended up being a surgeon, so not too helpful in this situation. They took me to the back of the plane and put me on oxygen. Several doctors came back, and the one who was an internist stayed with me. I then realized Qatar Airways is fully prepared for a medical emergency! Several black cases of medicine came out. The doctor wanted to give me steroids, but I asked her to wait and see if my emergency inhaler would kick in. During this whole thing, they blocked off one of the bathrooms, and in addition to the doctor, a flight attendant was with me the whole time. One of the pilots even came back to see me! Eventually, the attack stopped, and I could return to my seat, although on oxygen till we landed. When we landed, I was asked to stay seated, and then the Qatar Ambulance Service came on and asked if I wanted to go to the E.R. I declined, as all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.

The Saudi Arabian man sitting in my row was very patient with this whole ordeal. He waited with me till I could leave the plane and carried my bags. He then insisted on getting me a wheelchair and a porter when we got to the terminal. This was in the days of taking a bus to the terminal in Doha at the old airport. After I got the wheelchair, he disappeared, and I barely got to say thank you. I also learned that being in a wheelchair gets you to the front of the line at immigration!

I have now been on several flights where this announcement has been made, although thankfully not for me again. Now I know that if it does happen again, Qatar Airways is fully prepared to help me. They were all so calm and very caring. I don’t remember any of their names, and I am sure I didn’t thank them or the doctor that helped me properly, but I will always remember them. So, thank you!

Have you had a medical emergency while traveling? What did you do?

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  • Reply jewels June 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Oh no! I’m glad you were ok in the end!! I have asthma too but its been so long since I’ve had an attack, I never carry my inhaler with me. I’ve been lucky so far!!

    • Reply Tiffany June 4, 2015 at 9:46 am

      I learned my lesson to always carry it and to keep it handy.

      • Reply jewels June 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm

        Indeed! Good call!

  • Reply Sarah June 4, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    That must have been such a scary situation. I’ve never experienced anything like that on a flight but good to know Qatar Airways are well prepared!

    • Reply Tiffany June 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      I wasn’t too worried once I realized how many doctors were on the plane. I was more worried they were going to make an emergency landing for me!

  • Reply The Vagabond Baker June 5, 2015 at 11:51 am

    That sounds very scary, I hate flying at the best of times, this would be awful. You poor thing! That mad who sat with you, how kind!

    • Reply Tiffany June 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Yes he was so great! Very patient and nice.

  • Reply naomiinwonderland June 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Oh god that sounds terrifying and thankfully I haven’t been in any similar situations before, I have never even heard the announcement being made, even though I’ve been flying for so long, so often. So glad you were okay and that the people were helpful and caring!

    • Reply Tiffany June 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks! I do hear it a lot. Makes me wonder why.

  • Reply It's Not all Sunsets and Beaches: My Travel Fails | A Girl and Her PassportA Girl and Her Passport February 6, 2017 at 11:01 am

    […] flight back to Qatar from home and I had an asthma attack. I learned how prepared airlines are to treat medical emergencies and how grateful I was to the […]

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