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Cokato medical pro helps save airplane passenger
Oct. 6, 2017

By Starrla Cray
Associate Editor

COKATO, MN – As a family physician assistant at the Allina Health Cokato Clinic, Megan Anderson’s typical day doesn’t involve emergency rescue efforts.

Her medical training came in handy, though, during a flight home from Boston, MA in early August.

Anderson recalls being half asleep on the plane, and waking up to a voice on the intercom.

“They were asking if any medical personnel were on board,” Anderson said.

Anderson quickly became alert, and stood up to assist with whatever was needed. A paramedic and a registered nurse also jumped into action.

They learned that a young woman had become unconscious and needed help.

“Luckily, this girl had an aisle seat,” Anderson said.

They laid her into the narrow aisle, while the nurse helped set up the automated external defibrillator (AED). Anderson began performing chest compressions, while the paramedic did rescue breathing.

“The paramedic kind of led the show,” Anderson said.

The crew worked until the plane could land, which Anderson estimated at about 30 minutes. Anderson and two other passengers switched off with chest compressions.

“She never did come to while she was on the plane,” Anderson said.

The aircraft landed in Brooklyn, NY, where an ambulance was ready and waiting. The pilot told passengers that once the young woman was in the ambulance, she regained consciousness and was responsive.

Anderson isn’t sure what caused the emergency, as the woman had been traveling alone. Anderson said she noticed marks on the woman’s arms, and it appeared that injections had been made. Talking to other passengers, Anderson learned that the woman had gotten up to use the restroom, and had been gone for about 15 minutes. When the woman returned to her seat, she slumped over and started to shake.

At the airport in New York, Anderson and the other passengers waited on board for about an hour while the flight crew restocked the medical supplies and got ready for takeoff.

Anderson’s flight was originally scheduled to land in Minnesota at 8 p.m., but she ended up not getting home until about 1 a.m.

Thinking back on the situation, Anderson said she’s thankful for her basic life support training, and is also glad the paramedic was on board.

“For what we had to work with, I think everybody handled it pretty well,” she said.

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