A sobering start to the trip

Despite the cold and snow in MN for the past few days, we made it out of Mpls and into the wet, overcast airport in Amsterdam.  We met many travelers who had been delayed by a day or more due to the weather in Atlanta.  MN may be awful this winter, but at least we know how to deal with the freezing temps ad cold. We had a 3 hour layover before boarding the flight to Nairobi and had moved our bags to the waiting area for the next gate. Shortly after we arrived, another plane started to deboard near where we were standing.  There was soon some commotion at the exit and it appeared that a woman had tripped and fallen. When she didn’t move and try to stand in the next few minutes, I moved closer to make sure she didn’t need assistance or have a laceration as she had fallen against the wall.  On closer inspection, I realized that she was having a seizure.  Considering that she was probably epileptic, I moved her away from the wall, took the scarf and purse from around her neck and looked for a medical ID band. Another bystander took her purse and started to search for info, while another called for security and a med team.  Her breathing was quite labored, as is often the case with seizures.  However, her breathing suddenly changed to prolonged gasps and became more agonal.  Now I became very worried that this was much more than a simple seizure and checked her pulse – NONE.  Another traveler, who was also a doc, handed me a stethoscope and I could still get no pulse.  She called for an AED (electrical defibrillator) device to be found and we started CPR.  The next few minutes before the paramedics arrived seemed to take hours.  While I continued CPR, they affixed the pads for the AED and intubated the woman.  Cardiac activity was present after the second shock and she was soon whisked away on a stretcher.  Security bought me a cup of coffee (probably not the best idea as it was 3 am MN time and my heart rate was quite high due to nerves) and I gave them my contact info and asked them to followup with her status.

The woman appeared to be in her late 30’s and healthy.  I think she may have had a pulmonary embolus due to a DVT after getting off the plane following a 10 hour flight.  As easy as it is to stay in your seat during long plane flights, it is important to walk the aisles and stretch your legs periodically.  

I hope that this is not what the future holds for me for medical mission trips to new countries.  My husband reminded me that my first trip to Haiti 8 years ago involved a pedestrian accident in which our van stuck an older, deaf gentleman as he was crossing the road.  Luckily, only his arm was broken and we were able to cast it after we loaded him into the van and brought him with us to the hospital. 

Today we leave for a 10 hour van ride across the Rift Valley to the western edge of the country and will be spending the night near Lake Victoria.  Tomorrow is our first clinic.  I am hoping to see wildlife today and have some great photo opportunities – albeit from the inside of a van on a bumpy road.  We will see how much the image stabili


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