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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Airborne MDs terrified of emergencies

McGill's takes off tomorrow -- and not a moment too soon, it seems, given about doctors' fear of hearing the PA crackle, "Is there a doctor on board?"

The article begins with Dr Vincent Poirier, one of the course's creators, recounting a harrowing in-flight emergency:

Vincent Poirier was flying to central America on vacation when the page came over the airline PA system: a physician was urgently needed. Dr. Poirier had just finished medical school but was not yet licensed, so he decided to wait and see if someone else responded.

No one did and he finally, fearfully volunteered. The patient turned out to be a young girl suffering from anaphylactic shock. "If I hadn't done anything, she would have died," Dr. Poirier recalled. "She was wheezing, getting flushed, she was gasping for air."

He ended up saving her life, but his initial reluctance was typical of many physicians who, despite their expertise, react with trepidation to that sudden call to onbaord action.

To try to make the experience a little more comfortable, Dr. Poirier and a colleague at McGill University Health Centre have developed what they call the first continuing-education course in North America to teach physicians how to handle airline emergencies.
NRM recently wrote about in-flight emergencies and the rewards given to physicians by the airlines for providing their services -- or, more accurately, .

Dr Anna Carvalho, the course's co-creator alongside Dr Poirier, a couple months ago, as have a number of Canadian doctors. Most of them, unsurprisingly, have been with the gifts offered them by the airlines.

The movie poster above is from the 1980 disaster-movie parody Airplane!, which starred Saskatchwan-born, Northwest Territories-raised actor Leslie Nielsen as a physician named Dr Rumack. Here's one of the from the film:
Dr Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can't tell.
Dr Rumack: You can tell me. I'm a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No. I mean I'm just not sure.
Dr Rumack: Well, can't you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Dr Rumack: You can't take a guess for another two hours?
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