CESV take their skills to the skies!
By Claire Lamb…..
As many of you will know the members of the Civil Emergency Service Volunteers (CESV) can be relied on to help in any emergency – be it up a mountain, at a roadside or at home. On my last trip back to the UK my skills were required at around 39,000 feet in the air!
I had decided to take the early morning Pegasus flight back to the UK on new year’s day assuming (oh foolish me!) it would be a quiet and trouble free journey.
I boarded in Ercan looking forward to the flight from Istanbul to Stansted so I could settle down and have a snooze before the next stage of my journey. About half an hour into the flight I noticed a gentleman in the row in front of me looked unwell and his sister rang the call bell for the cabin crew. A call went out in Turkish and English asking if there was a doctor on the flight. Trust me to be on one of the few flights where no doctors were present! By this time the gentleman really was looking quite ill, grey skin colour, sweating profusely and unresponsive. I had a quick word with the hostess and explained that I am a qualified 1st aider and offered my help. The look of relief on her face said it all. I showed her my ID badge which has details of my First Aid qualification and set to work.
When providing training we often place our “casualties” in awkward situations to show that a problem can occur at any time, in any place! We often use the scenario of someone becoming ill on a plane and here I was, about to practise what we preach.
Myself and two other passengers managed to lift the gentleman into the aisle and lie him down between the seats so that if CPR was required he was already in position. I asked one of the cabin crew to bring oxygen and asked for the legs of the casualty to be raised. The next step was to get a history from the relative who was travelling with the gentleman. According to her he was on no medication and had no history of heart problems or diabetes. He had seemed fine when he boarded the flight but had not had any food, only a cup of tea since the previous night. One of our last training sessions for 2014 had been about taking the pulse at various points in the body and as I was positioned at his head I was in the ideal place to monitor his pulse on a regular basis. Once the gentleman had been on oxygen for a while his colour looked better and he could respond to basic questions. He asked if he could sit for a while so I helped him to sit, placing him in the “W” position, ready to act if he relapsed…………….. which he did! I eased him back onto the floor and replaced the oxygen and explained to the cabin crew that the gentleman was going to have to stay in this position for as long as necessary to get him in a stable condition. They asked what was wrong so I explained that as I am not a doctor I was unable to give a diagnosis only treat the symptoms to my best ability. After an hour and a half in this position (much more and it would be me needing an ambulance as my knees would give out!) monitoring the patient all the while the gentleman asked for something to drink. The hostess brought some orange juice and a kind passenger offered a banana as it was easy to chew and would provide some sustenance. Unfortunately, sitting up and the removal of the oxygen saw the gentleman fading once again so it was back onto the floor with oxygen and monitoring once again. I tried to re-assure the family member he was travelling with saying that his pulse had returned to normal and that an ambulance was waiting at Stansted to take him to be checked out. The technician for Pegasus was concerned about landing the plane with the passenger on the floor so I asked for them to give us as much time as possible to get the gentleman stable before we assessed if he was fit enough to return to his seat. Around half an hour before landing it was decided that the gentleman could lie down across the 3 seats so he could be strapped in for landing. As I was sitting in the row behind I could still keep an eye on the gentleman who seemed quite unaware of the drama he was involved in! Once on the ground the cabin crew swung into action and crew members from the ambulance came on board to assist in getting the man into the vehicle and off to be checked.
As a result of this event I will be contacting Pegasus airlines to ask why their crew are not trained in First Aid and to offer the services of the CESV to ensure that their cabin crews are never in this situation again. You may think that this was a one off occurrence but strangely enough the same thing happened to my husband on a Thomas Cook flight from Larnaca and once again, none of their crew were trained in First Aid skills. It would seem the moral of the story is…………………. avoid flights with the Lamb family as passengers!
Despite not being able to get my snooze I was just pleased that I was in the right place at the right time to assist this gentleman. I wish him all the best and hope his next flight is less traumatic.
If you are interested in the work of the CESV or would like to join our ranks please check out our webpage by clicking here or visit our Facebook page click here. For more details about courses available please contact Steve Collard on 05488455927