Dave Smith, a SSAFA midwife, has received a personal letter of thanks from Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois after potentially saving the life of a passenger on board a British Airways flight from Cyprus to the UK recently.
Francois, who was on the flight after an official visit to HQ BFC, watched in amazement like many of the other passengers on board, as Smith answered the cabin crew’s pleas for help when an elderly man began vomiting severely.
He had also become unresponsive and the crew’s attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and his skin had begun to turn grey.
As Smith stepped forward, he explained: “I was amazed and relieved to be told that British Airways’ flights have a complete emergency medical pack capable of dealing with most emergencies. They were carried just in case there may be a doctor or medically trained passenger on board an aircraft who can assist the cabin crew. The crew obviously also had some form of emergency training.
“After a quick assessment, I decided that the best position for the man would be to get him into the recovery position. I gave him some oxygen and then within 30 seconds, with the crews help, quickly moved him to the galley area where the floor space would allow us to get him into the correct recovery position.”
From his seat, Smith was able to monitor the man’s progress and look for any signs of improvement: “In between giving oxygen I could sit down and still keep a close eye on him and after about an hour or so, he was starting to become responsive and then started muttering.”
The passenger, a Russian man, was in his early sixties and had not really any serious history or medical condition so Smith advised the crew to continue with the flight to the UK – avoiding a diversion.
“After and while he was able to briefly stand up and we sat him on one of the galley crew seats so he could start regaining his sense of balance,” Smith continued.
“We then got him comfortable lying down and he pretty much spent the rest of the flight asleep with me keeping an eye on things.”
After the flight landed, Smith revealed that he was then approached by a man who wanted to congratulate him: “He came up to me and said, ‘that was amazing what you did, can you tell me your details so I can write to you and thank you officially’. The word ‘officially’ puzzled me but then he gave me his card. He was Mark Francois, the Minister for the Armed Forces, who had been on a working visit to HQ British Forces in Cyprus.
“A few days after, I received letters from both the Minister and British Airways thanking me for what I did and for avoiding a plane full of passengers having to divert.
“I was really surprised at the fuss. I was pleased to help, but if they knew what it was like dealing with mum’s giving birth, then a sky high emergency like that, was more like a walk in the park. I’m glad the chaps OK and just hope he continues to have a good life.”