Pharmacist helps save the day

flight airplane travel

An Australian pharmacist and nurse come to the rescue of a dangerously ill patient during a mid-air emergency

Early into a flight from Johannesburg to Mauritius while on the way home from the PSA Refresher Course earlier this month, Victorian pharmacist Malcolm Cosgriff found himself in an in-flight drama.

An hour into the flight a call was made for anyone with medical training to assist a passenger who was unwell.

Cosgriff, the owner of Beaumaris Pharmacy, and his partner ER nurse Corrine Wassertheil were up in a flash.

The passenger who was semi conscious and sweating profusely was assessed by Corrine as suffering from a hypoglycaemic event after Malcolm noticed his insulin administration equipment.

He had given himself an injection of long acting insulin expecting his food to arrive soon. Malcolm found out his young daughter who had been sitting next to him had given him a second shot upon seeing him unwell, not knowing he had already administered insulin.

The plane’s first-aid kit did not contain any glucagon so Corrine used the coloured outside of licorice all sorts mixed with Coca Cola and sugar and put it under his tongue, Malcolm said. As the man regained consciousness, they had him slowly sip the drink.

“He was practically dead,” Malcolm said. “If it hadn’t been for the quick intervention, it would have been a tragic flight”.

Another pharmacist on the flight witnessed Malcolm educating the family and flight crew on the timing of insulin doses and food in patients with diabetes.

He and Corrine both advised the crew on the importance of restocking the first aid kit with a glucagon hypo kit and other items they noticed missing.

The passenger recovered quickly and was fine after his lucky escape, Malcolm added.

“A combination of my knowledge of drugs and her clear thinking under pressure and quick diagnosis certainly proved extremely useful,” he concluded.

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  1. Jenny Gowan

    Well done Malcolm and Corrine ! He was lucky to have your help! Dr Shane Hamblin our star endocrinology lecturer would have been proud of you.

    • Karalyn Huxhagen

      what is is with offshore?. Last year one of the pharmacists wives who is a GP spent most of our flight assisting a very ill elderly gentleman. After turning back to Darwin we had a second ill gentleman. This poor GP spent a lot of her travel time assisting very ill people.

  2. Sharon Davis

    Great work! Journalist please note that the kit you mention probably should read glucagon NOT glycogen.

    • Sheshtyn Paola

      Thank you for pointing that out, Sharon.

  3. Debbie Rigby

    Great work Mal and Corrine. Swimming with sharks, saving lives….

  4. Ivelise Roic

    Well done Mal and Corrine, I worked for Mal as a student many many moons ago..

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