We were excited to begin the trip we had been looking forward to for over a year; ever since my brother and his wife-to-be announced they would be getting married in February 2018 in Sydney, Australia.
We settled in to our first leg at 9am, for our 8-hour flight to Abu Dhabi, on an Etihad Airways Airbus A380. It was a smooth journey and we landed on time. We endured the usual mid-flight security checks and toilet queues and then boarded for round two!
The second leg was around 15 hours and minus the restless legs, we were coping well. Suddenly, over the vast Indian Ocean and around 4 hours out from the mainland of Australia; there was a burst of commotion. I awoke from my daze to see the air stewardess running down the aisle. I assumed we were all going to die… naturally.
After a split second, I heard a woman two rows behind scream, “he’s not breathing”. I looked behind me to see a young man slumped over his seat, as white as a sheet, with his eyes wide open. I was sure he was dead. I immediately pushed Rachel out of her seat (she was asleep with headphones on) and ushered her attention to the calls for help. Rachel, a NHS neuro-ward nurse, rushed over to feel the man’s pulse.
The senior first aid stewardess came running down the aisle, pushed Rachel out of the way and began shouting in the man’s face “Sir, can you hear me!?”. The man was unresponsive, so the stewardess and Rachel picked him up to take him to the galley to lay him flat. Then, the stewardess lost grip of his upper body and the man fell in the aisle. I heard a groan but was unsure of whom it came from.
After an hour of nervous waiting and over-thinking scenarios of emergency landings, “would we turn back to Indonesia or fly another hour to Perth?”, Rachel finally returned to her seat. The man was alive! Rachel advised the crew to administer oxygen to the ill passenger, once he came around. It was concluded that the guy had passed out, or potentially suffered a seizure, whilst in conversation with his wife. He hadn’t drunk any water the whole flight, had consumed alcohol and was now badly dehydrated. After the oxygen and water, the passenger returned to his seat an hour before landing in Sydney.
Luckily there were three medically trained passengers on-board the long-haul flight, including Rachel. We made it to Sydney without any further incidents and were all glad to be back on land. I would say dry land but unbelievably, it was pouring down with rain in Sydney on our arrival!
Lessons learned for long-haul flights:
- Drink twice as much water, if consuming alcohol.
- Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
- Always take Rachel with you on holiday.