Honor Flight: In-Flight Scare

Brief Highlights of a College-Sponsored Utah Honor Flight, Part Three

The second memorable incident on the plane was an in-flight medical concern. Every Honor Flight recruits two medics to serve as in-flight medical staff. The medics for this trip were Kathy Thatcher (AS ’82, BS ’89) and Dr. Blad.

About 20 minutes into the flight, one of the guardians turned to the person near her and reported that she did not feel well—then suddenly passed out. The individual sitting next to her happened to be BYU College of Nursing dean and professor Patricia Ravert (AS ’74, BS ’75, MS ’94), who was also participating in the trip as a guardian.

Ravert summoned Blad, and with his help they were able to lay the woman down in the aisle of the commercial airplane. Blad quickly gathered a collection of medical devices to check the patient’s oxygen, heart-rate, and blood-pressure levels—which all appeared normal. But each time the patient tried to sit up, she would pass out again.

The flight attendants used a radio headset to communicate directly to a physician on the ground. Information was relayed back and forth until the situation improved and the woman regained her strength. She spent the remainder of the flight reclined across two seats, with her feet elevated on Blad’s lap.

“The roar of the airplane’s engine made it quite difficult to hear an accurate heartbeat,” Blad says. “It was also a challenge that I could not speak directly to the doctor—only airline employees could relay information. I had the power to divert the flight to seek emergency care but not to share details of my assessment.”

Some would say this was the safest flight in history given the fact that there were four BYU College of Nursing faculty, two nursing alumni, and 13 nursing students onboard—all trained and ready to assist if needed.

Read more about the three-day experience as additional posts on this blog.

Published by BYU Nursing

Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art by: leading with faith and integrity; advancing the science of nursing and healthcare; promoting health and wellness; alleviating suffering; and serving individuals, families, and communities. The mission of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University is to learn the Healer’s art and go forth to serve.

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