In my new spot serving as the EMS Supervisor for a busy International Airport I have had to learn a new normal. For example, we get toned out on medical calls for both the approximately 5k-15k people in the terminal at any given time as well as the almost 140k people that circulate through the airport every 24 hours.
Gone are the days of the homeless man asleep in the bus shelter getting a 911 call for being unconscious (Who doesn’t want to be unconscious at 3am?) and here are the new unconscious calls, called in by a flight crew on final approach.
The thing I’m still getting used to, however, is that there will be an ETA included in our dispatch, often 10-15 minutes, which eliminates the need to rush out the door on every bell. That indeed takes getting used to. No point rushing out the door and to the gate in 4 minutes when the flight has yet to even land, let alone taxi to the gate.
We’ll grab our gear and access the jetway from the outside and wait for the flight to arrive, often having little to go on regarding the patient’s condition. The flight crew often calls in “ill passenger” or “vomiting” but the all too common chief complaint is “lost consciousness, now awake.”
You can agree, that could be gosh darn anything.
The rules at our airport say if you call for us we get on the aircraft before anyone stands up, assess the patient and determine the best course of action. Most often this is finding someone very embarrassed who isn’t handling the flight as well as they hoped.
We do our best for them and handle the encounter like any other EMS system.
The most interesting part of waiting for a flight is when it is an International flight. Now not only do we have the local police, ambulance company (and their airfield safety escort) but now a whole alphabet soup of customs agents. If the patient and family needs to be transported they will get quick access to customs and be dealt with first, right there. They even carry the stamp on their belts. Very interesting indeed.
More to follow from the Airport soon,