A Tale of Two Airlines

A Tale of Two Airlines

A Loss on WestJet

Flight crew took 10 minutes to find AED after elderly man initially found in medical distress

Questions are being raised about how prepared flight crews are to deal with medical emergencies after an elderly man died on a WestJet flight from Hawaii to Calgary last week.

The flight left Honolulu late at night on March 7 and was scheduled to land in Calgary the morning of March 8. Midway through the flight, flight attendants were overheard asking if there was a doctor or nurse on board.

A woman on the plane identified herself as a nurse.

The nurse was led to a passenger seated in the middle of a row near the front of the plane who appeared to be in his 80s.

CBC News was told the nurse called for help moving the man to the floor.

The flight crew was told to get an AED (automated external defibrillator) and the crew was seen searching overhead bins.

It was around 10 minutes before the AED was located.

Automated external defibrillators are designed to be simple to use for the layperson.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, if delivered in the first few minutes, defibrillation and CPR can double the survival rate of cardiac arrest, but with each passing minute, the probability of survival decreases seven to 10 per cent.

CBC News does not know whether an AED would have helped in this case.

CBC News has learned CPR was performed for more than 30 minutes before it was determined the passenger had died.

The man's body was then lifted into a seat and secured there for the remainder of the flight.

Calgary EMS confirmed paramedics responded to the flight once it landed at Calgary International Airport at 6:30 a.m. and an elderly man on board was pronounced dead.

In a statement, a WestJet spokesperson confirmed there was a medical incident on the flight and said the flight crew utilized the AED and conducted CPR with the assistance of a nurse who was on board.

When asked if the 10-minute time frame to locate the AED was acceptable to the airline, the spokesperson said, "from the initial debrief with our crew members, we are comfortable with the way the situation was handled during this unfortunate incident."

According to the airline, all WestJet planes are equipped with a medical emergency kit, MEDAire satellite phone that allows for direct access to emergency physicians and an AED.

"Both the MEDAire satellite phone and AED are above and beyond what is required by the regulator," read the email.

"An aircraft cabin can be a challenging environment for a medical situation to occur and WestJet wants to be able to provide our guests with the best possible medical response should it be required."

Transport Canada told CBC News medical emergencies that happen on board aircraft do not have to be reported to the agency.



A Save on Spirit

Passengers give CPR, use AED to restart heart

Katherine Yombik was on board Spirit Airlines Flight 801 waiting for departure from Detroit Metro Airport on March 13, when she heard someone yell out to call 911.

A man had collapsed on the plane.

Passenger Jeff Kruger said the man, sitting in the seat in front of him, was not moving.

"He was completely unresponsive, head tilted, jaw open, not breathing properly," Kruger said. "You could just tell something was wrong."

Yombik, a nurse from Michigan, was one of the first passengers to answer the call for help.

“Someone said 'call 911' and we went back and the guy is unresponsive and (had) no pulse so we pulled him out and started CPR," Yombik said.

Kruger, who had just taken a CPR class two weeks earlier, helped lift the man to the floor.

“Someone picked him up from that side, someone picked him up from the feet, got him from his seat to the ground," Kruger said. "As I went to start compressions there's an EMT, yelling, who came forward, so my response was to get a defibrillator to the gentlemen as quickly as possible."

Yombik said she performed CPR.

"No pulse, so we did CPR for a couple minutes," Yombik said. "Got an AED, put the pads on, shocked him, got his pulse back."

Sue Kneehouse, also a nurse, used the automated external defibrillator on the man. 

"It was really good, we worked as a team and got it done," Kneehouse said. "It just comes natural to you and I just gotta say- people just need to keep loving each other."

The man was revived almost instantly. 

Members of the Capusano family from Ontario, Canada, who were on board the plane, said the other passengers remained calm and cheered as the man was taken off the plane in Detroit on a stretcher.

"The defibrillator brought him back and everyone started clapping," 11-year-old Nina Capusano said. "I think it's really important to do what you can even if you're not a medical professional to try and help someone because it's the better thing to do and really nice."

Kruger said the nurses and EMT who volunteered to help didn't hesitate for a second.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do," Kruger said. "You have a chance to continue life and this is the only life that we have. How can you not?"

Kruger, Yombik and Kneehouse all stressed the importance of learning CPR and how to operate an AED.

 "It's so easy to learn, everyone should know CPR, and everyone should have an AED or at least know where there is an AED," Yombik said. "That's really what saved his life."

Flight 801 continued on to Orlando without incident and arrived at 12:44 p.m.

Spirit officials, citing medical privacy reasons, could not say how the man is doing.


SOURCE: ClickOrlando.com


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