Clayton State University Assistant Professor of Nursing and Interim Director of the College of Health’s Graduate Nursing Program Dr. Victoria Foster was returning from her recent trip to South Korea on behalf of the University’s MOU with Daejeon Health Sciences College when she was presented with a potential life-or-death situation in mid-air when a fellow passenger had a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.
Foster reports that the individual in question, a young woman, was given an epinephrine shot by a friend who was traveling with her, but she nonetheless passed out in the aisle of the airplane. Fortunately, she passed out right by Foster’s seat.
She couldn’t have picked a better spot, since Foster holds an M.S.N. from Armstrong Atlantic State University, a B.S.N. from Tuskegee University and a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Having already arranged an academic nursing program in Korea, Foster then went into “hands-on” nursing mode. She picks up the story thusly…
“I jumped into the aisle to do a quick assessment. I was given equipment to listen to lung sounds and to take a blood pressure. Her pressure was low at 100/58. She was having difficulty breathing and her tongue was swelling. I asked for an oxygen tank and (an army nurse on board the flight) started her on O2
. Two interns, the Army nurse, and I lifted her to a nearby middle section of the plane. I had to start an IV and give her IV fluids, (using) my arm as a pole and my hand as a pressure bag to quickly get the fluids in as her pressure was dropping. We gave her Benadryl to combat the reaction.”
With a medical emergency on board, the pilot began procedures for an early landing. However, Foster points out that, “the rash and angioedema started to subside and she starting speaking to us. We were able to take a quick history and she said this was her typical reaction to peanuts.”
As a result, the plane landed as scheduled in Detroit and the paramedics met the flight on board. The young woman reported to Foster late in the week that she was now back to normal.
Foster adds a couple of additional notes to her story. First, the young woman said she had not eaten peanuts, but that she may have been exposed to them in another form, likely through peanut oil. Also, a plastic surgeon and a neurosurgeon were both on board the flight, but they really couldn't help very much in these circumstances.
“They are great at what they do, but they are not into acute care,” notes Foster.
Finally, Foster’s traveling companion for the trip to Daejeon Health Sciences College, Clayton State Associate Vice President for Extended Programs Dr. Kevin Demmitt, got to see his colleague “in action,” and gave her high marks for her professional skill.
“What a flight,” says Foster.