Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'll just come out and say it...

I am petrified of anything first aid.

I am trained in first aid, CPR, defibrillators, and all things aidy, and I still am so scared of having to deal with any kind of situation.

I have personally never dealt with too much... The other week there was a small girl choking in the middle seat. Her father was a)hitting her on the back, b)shoving his hand in her mouth to remove the item causing her to choke, and c)grabbing her neck and shaking her. The first two things are what they tell us to NEVER do, and the third one, well, I have no idea what would drive someone to do that but oh well. I stood at the aisle, yelling and the dad to stop it. Well, actually I said "stop! STOP! STOP!!!!" without giving any other instructions than that. After realizing that me yelling stop wasn't really an effective use of my skills, I reached across the dad to grab the girl, and I imagine my idea was to start doing abdominal thrusts when she coughed and what looked like a litre of water came out of her mouth. I stared at the girl, then looked at the dad and said "are you ok now? can you talk?" which is what my mum does any time someone is coughing/choking, since if you can talk your airway is clear, and the dad just said "yeah she's fine." I asked the girl "can you talk? what's your name?" She answered me, so I decided she was ok. Then, I looked at the dad and said "don't DO that!" and walked away. Since that experience I have learned that a)I need to be a more effective communicator in emergency situations, since "stop it" and "don't do that" don't really make my message clear, b)I should trust my instincts and act a little more quickly, and c)some parents have no idea what to do in those situations and just do anything they think might maybe help. Panic I guess?

So this brings me to someone dying. We have things we're supposed to do when someone dies on board, and that article on Kristen's blog really isn't far off. The only thing I would have done differently is perhaps INFORM THE GUEST SITTING NEXT TO THE DEAD BODY AND NOT JUST LET HIM WAKE UP AND FIND IT!!!!! Are you freaking joking me?? There must have been some kind of miscommunication between the flight attendants, that guest, and perhaps the media, because there's no way I'd sit a dead lady down and walk away with no further instruction. We DO have to "secure" the corpse, because if we just left it lying the galley or aisle for example, if we needed to evacuate they would hinder everyone else's evacuation. We're told to be as discrete as possible but really, carrying a dead body isn't easy or discrete. Hopefully they have just died in their seat, because then we can leave them there and call it a day. If someone dies while we're performing first aid, we have to continue until EMS comes to take over since we can't pronounce anyone dead. SO, we have to continue CPR until we land unless it's deemed too dangerous by the captain to do so. (This slightly contradicts the whole securing the body so it doesn't hinder an evacuation, but in that situation we would, and I'm going to use my own words here, huck the body out the door before initiating the evacuation. Or at least that's what I would do.) I've worked with several flight attendants who have had guests die on board, and it's never a good situation, but you just have to deal with it. I would hope that the people sitting in the first row would get up and move so we could put the dead person there since there is more room. I don't think anyone has the right to be mad or upset or judge the crew in the situation from the article, because honestly, how on earth are you supposed to deal with it?? Yes, they should have told the person who was sitting next to the corpse, and I highly doubt they really just plopped her down and left without any explanation, but if they did, well oh well. At least that guy is still alive! That's just me. I wouldn't be exactly rational in a situation like that.

On a more positive note, I'm up for my first aid re-certification, so I'll learn all the new first aid (since it's changed this year) and hopefully become a little more confident. On an even more positive note, every month we get our statistics on medical emergencies on board, and in almost 90% of all situations there is either a doctor or nurse on board. So they can at least help us. We also have a sat phone that is a direct line to a hospital, where they will give us instructions on what to do and we can even administer some of our crazy medical supplies we have in a secret compartment. And we have a defibrillator. So if you get sick on the plane and need an IV and your heart stops, we're prepared.

8 comments:

kristen said...

"hucking dead bodies": best. tag. ever.

Blogosaurus Rex said...

I just saw that article today too.. That must be really freaky having to deal with a dead body like that. You should throw a bit of humour into the ordeal when you put the body in the seat. Tell the person next to the corpse, "Don't have the turkey".

Evey said...

I read that news article as well. Very interesting. However I figured in reading it that something was left out somewhere along the way. I agree with you that it is unlikely they just plopped her down next to some guy without bothering to clear it with him first and make him aware of the situation. Craziness!

Steph said...

Oh man I'm not really good at coffee making or flight attending but I'm GREAT at first aid! I could help you if I ever saw you or we ever spoke on the phone.

Too bad. Goodluck!

liz said...

1) what kristen said
2) I taught swimming for years but would rarely lifeguard, in large part due to an intense fear of having to perform first aid.

Dee said...

I was slightly distracted whilst reading your entry, and somehow i skipped two lines and I thought that one line read that there had been a miscommunication between the flight attendants, the guest and the corpse.....it confused me until I read back a few lines....no miscommunication with the corpse. Got it.

lu said...

i thought of you this weekend as i performed some first aid to a cut badly in need of stitches. i sort of love first aid. but dead bodies, not so much.

kristen said...

i meant to comment earlier...but dee, excellent usage of "whilst". it made me smile.