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    181st IW Airmen respond during in-flight medical emergency

    181st IW Airmen respond during in-flight medical emergency

    Photo By Master Sgt. Roland Sturm | Air Force Maj. Jessica Bekkering and Capt. Brooke Hansen, both clinical nurses...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Roland Sturm 

    181st Intelligence Wing Public Affairs

    What was expected to be a routine training trip rapidly shifted into a real-life scenario for two airmen from the 181st Intelligence Wing when they took action during an in-flight medical emergency on Feb. 6.

    Air Force Maj. Jessica Bekkering and Capt. Brooke Hansen, both 181st Medical Group clinical nurses assigned to the medical element of Indiana’s 19th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package, were on their way to attend Armed Forces Advanced Trauma Training in Reno, Nevada.

    While flying from Indianapolis to Las Vegas, the typical white noise of the humming aircraft was interrupted by a call for help from a few seats away.

    “She stood up yelling for help, saying he was having a seizure,” said Hansen.

    It turned out a sixty-nine-year-old man was traveling to Hawaii with his wife to celebrate their anniversary. During the flight, his wife noticed he was having complications and pleaded for help.

    Hansen was the first to arrive to the man, who was slumped over, unresponsive and sweating profusely. She said the man had no radial pulse and a faint carotid, indicating his blood pressure was low. Realizing the urgency of the situation, she prepared to move him to the aircraft floor to start chest compressions if needed.

    While Hansen assessed the man, Bekkering gathered his information and medical history from his wife.

    Hansen said that the man began regaining consciousness after about 20 seconds. She continued to monitor the man, who began responding to questions and following commands roughly 30 minutes later. The man was dizzy and weak, but his radial pulse returned and he had no chest pain or shortness of breath.

    Using the limited resources available to them, Bekkering and Hansen measured the man’s blood pressure and used their smart-watches to get a rough estimate of his heart rate and oxygen saturation.

    Of course, the commotion did not go unnoticed by the flight crew, who considered performing an emergency medical landing. After being moved to a supine position with his feet elevated, however, the man began feeling better and his condition improved.

    Despite things seeming better, Bekkering and Hansen chose to stay by the man’s side so they could continue to monitor the man during the aircraft’s descent toward the airport in Las Vegas.

    When the flight finally landed, Bekkering and Hansen provided the man’s information to local medical personnel.

    “They stepped up when they needed to,” said Air Force Col. Thomas Salsbury, commander of the 181st Medical Group, crediting both their civilian medical training and their training with the 19th CERFP.

    The 19th CERFP trains for disaster scenarios that often limit the type of equipment and facilities typically available to medical personnel.

    “It’s kind of austere what we do,” said Salsbury while describing the isolated situations service members can encounter as part of the CERFP. “You don’t think of a plane that way, but from a medical standpoint it is.”

    Indeed, what began as a routine training trip turned into a real-world event, and the airmen relied on their training and instincts to do what military medical personnel do best: save lives, no matter the scenario.



    Date Taken: 04.27.2023
    Date Posted: 04.27.2023 17:21
    Story ID: 443531
    Location: TERRE HAUTE, IN, US 

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