FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A routine flight to Colombia turned into a life-saving mission when Melissa Hernandez, a UHealth Jackson Memorial Hospital nurse practitioner, answered a call for medical assistance on a JetBlue flight last week.
Hernandez and her husband were onboard JetBlue flight 41 when she was summoned to aid a passenger in distress.
“I took off my ear pods to see what she was saying, and she [a flight attendant] was asking for a doctor or a nurse,” said Hernandez.
The distressed passenger, described as blue-faced and unresponsive, prompted Hernandez to perform Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), a protocol used to assess patients in cardiac arrests.
“You assess your patient, see what your patient is doing, if they’re breathing or not. Examine the patient quickly, you only have a few seconds, and then check for a pulse. If you don’t find a pulse, you start doing chest compressions right away, and that’s exactly what I did,” said Hernandez.
With the assistance of flight attendants and an onboard defibrillator, the passenger regained breathing after a few minutes.
“It was about a minute, and then finally she made a noise, and so I went and examined her again,” said Hernandez. “I made sure that she wasn’t having a stroke. I started to talk to her and she wasn’t getting the words out right away.”
The plane, en route from Fort Lauderdale to Medellin, Colombia, turned back to Fort Lauderdale, where the stabilized passenger was taken to the hospital.
Despite delays, fellow passengers were understanding and thanked Hernandez for her life-saving efforts.
“It’s funny because you’re just applauded, and everybody’s saying thank you and good work, and it’s kind of just like this is what I do every single day, so it was kind of weird to get that recognition,” said Hernandez.
The flight resumed its course to Colombia approximately an hour later. Hernandez, who doesn’t know the saved passenger’s name, wishes her a speedy recovery.
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