Passengers Team Up to Save Heart Attack Victim

As plane travels through remote territory
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2014 4:52 PM CDT
Passengers Team Up to Save Heart Attack Victim
A man was saved by fellow passengers on a plane.   (Shutterstock)

A man who suffered a heart attack on a plane survived thanks to some well-trained fellow passengers. A doctor, a pharmacist, and a police officer on board rushed to the man's aid and saved his life, as they recount in the British Medical Journal. To add to the drama, the commercial flight was traveling "through some of the most remote airspace on the planet," notes the BMJ. The man reported chest pain, and Dr. Dave Monks went to speak with him; after the man lost consciousness, Monks performed chest compressions, LiveScience reports. The other two men came to his side when he sought help.

"They were able to perform a quite dramatic and sophisticated critical care resuscitation," Monks tells LiveScience. The crew helped, too, using a defibrillator that was on the plane. The police officer was among those performing CPR, and the pharmacist provided epinephrine via the plane's medical supplies. The plane from Canada to Hong Kong was diverted to the closest big city in China; there, the man was hospitalized. He recovered and was discharged, "neurologically intact, 10 days later," the BMJ notes. The story offers a lesson, Monks says: Regular people should be taught resuscitation techniques, and all planes should carry defibrillators, as US rules require. (Though one widow says they aren't always used correctly.)

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