Is there a medic onboard?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
While returning from leave, an Osan Air Base Airman sprang into action, saving the life of a fellow passenger mid-flight, Nov. 11, 2017.

After visiting family in Santa Ana, California, Staff Sgt. Cassidy McCurdy, 51st Medical Group independent duty medical technician, was heading back from leave on a flight from San Francisco to Seattle, when things took an unexpected turn.

“I was taking a nap and there was some commotion going on in the back (of the aircraft),” said McCurdy. “Then the (flight attendants) asked if there was a doctor or emergency medical technician onboard.”

McCurdy sprung to action to assess the situation onboard.

“I got up and there was a woman in cardiac arrest,” said McCurdy. “There were no other medics around (at the moment) and she didn’t have a pulse, so I started to do chest compressions. I just completely reacted and did everything I’ve been trained to do through the emergency medicine protocols that we do. It was the first time I had to 100 percent rely on myself to know what to do (in a cardiac arrest situation).” It took around two minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the victim to gain consciousness.

“She quickly gained consciousness. Then another gentleman moved her to the back where the flight attendants sit,” said McCurdy. “So from there we just got her stable, she started vomiting and another nurse came back and assisted.”

McCurdy has more than five years of experience through the USAF in the medical field including two years as an IDMT.

“[As an IDMT] we’re essentially physician extenders trained on anything in the hospital. We’re able to see patients, prescribe medication, diagnose and treat them under a flight surgeon,” said McCurdy. “We’re supposed to be like a mini hospital ourselves, so if we deploy, we can help take care of everything like dental, labs, pharmacy, public health, water testing, etc.”

McCurdy had to apply what she learned throughout her military career to help aid the victim.

“We administered oxygen, maintained her vitals, obtained glucose readings, and made sure she stayed stable,” said McCurdy. “I was able to do a full neurological exam to rule out a couple of other things.”

Once the aircraft landed, emergency responders from the ground transported the patient to the emergency room.

“I feel very grateful I was there. She truly was my reason for being on the plane that night. It has been more than a month since this happened and each day I have wondered if what I did was enough and how she is doing,” said McCurdy. “I joined the medical field to help people, so it feels great knowing that the skill set the Air Force has taught me allowed me to do so in a moment’s notice.”