Lofty flying ritual tempered by medical emergency

Snow-covered baseball fields seen from airplane window last weekend.

Aerial view of snow-covered baseball fields near Lansing, Mich., last weekend.

Every time I fly, I indulge in a happy ritual. As the plane descends and the landscape of an unfamiliar city comes into view, I look for baseball fields among the housing developments and highways — true diamonds in the rough.

The dirt infields and green outfields are a comforting sight, and a sign that America’s pastime is cherished here. Not the idolatry of overpriced superstars, but the essence of baseball, kids outside in the sun playing the simplest form of a grand game.

The more of these basic baseball fields I see, the more my spirits soar. That’s especially true as we endure March in the Northeast, where baseball fans eagerly await the snowmelt that ushers in a new baseball season.

On my most recent trip, the joy of seeing the familiar shapes from the airplane window was diminished not by the fact that they were covered in snow, but by an incident on board as we landed in Lansing, Mich.

As we taxied to the gate, a female passenger in the rear of the small plane shouted out to call 911 because another passenger was having a seizure. The lone flight attendant acted quickly, asking over the PA if a doctor or nurse was aboard.

Fortunately, one of the 30 or so passengers was a physician and he evaluated the man. I overheard the doctor tell the pilot, who had stopped the plane and emerged from the cockpit, that the man seemed to be OK.

Maybe 10 minutes later, EMS personnel came aboard and checked on the man. He was able to walk with assistance — a good thing, because the narrow aisle would have been difficult to navigate with a stretcher.

By then, of course, I was no longer dreaming of baseball, lazy summer nights or how my Red Sox are going to repeat as World Series champions.

All I could think of was the man who had the seizure, and how fortunate that he wasn’t more seriously ill. I also wondered “What if …?” What if his seizure happened in mid-flight? What if a doctor hadn’t been on board? My First Aid certification lapsed several years ago, and I felt fairly useless sitting there.

The passenger who had the seizure was a man of perhaps 60, and he was traveling with a young woman and an infant. My guess is that he’s the father of the woman, and grandfather of the baby.

After the man was taken off the plane, the flight attendant brought the woman and baby to the front row so she could make a quick exit. We were still 75 yards or so from the gate, so the attendant shut the door and the pilot returned to the cockpit to finish taxiing.

In all, I’d say the delay was 25 minutes after a very short and smooth connecting flight. It must have been an excruciating wait for the young woman with the baby, although she seemed remarkably calm given what had just happened.

I hope the man is recovering, and I applaud the care and concern shown for him and his family. I’m also thinking it might be time to brush up on my First Aid.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in family, Irish Investigations, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lofty flying ritual tempered by medical emergency

  1. markbialczak says:

    That indeed could have turned out very badly, Jim, with different timing and less cool-headed folks on the plane. I like your attitude regarding the sandlot baseball diamonds from the air as you approach. Parks always catch my eye in similar situations. And golf courses. In the south, I like to look in neighborhoods and note how many people have backyard pools. There you go. Have a safe remainder. I can’t believe I missed this one on March 17, by the way. Glad you posted it on CNY Bloggers.


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