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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