Military News

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wisconsin National Guard Airman responds to on-flight medical emergency

By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin Army National Guard

A flight doctor for the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, assisted a young woman aboard a civilian aircraft while returning home from a NATO training exercise in Iceland.

The situation took place while waiting for takeoff Sunday (June 12) aboard Delta Airlines flight 1126 from Boston Logan Airport to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Maj. William Lane, Green Bay, heard an announcement that the plane would be returning to the gate due to a medical issue on board. He immediately switched roles from airline passenger to on-board doctor.

"I looked back and saw a bunch of people standing around," Lane said. "I went back there and pretty much took charge" - something he is used to doing as a full-time emergency room doctor at the Appleton Medical Center.

The woman, in her 20s, experienced a seizure and seemed confused with symptoms of unresponsiveness and respirations, Lane said.

He observed as the flight attendants administered an oxygen mask to the passenger. Lane then stayed with the woman, stabilizing her airway to sustain an oxygen flow for about 10 minutes until the paramedics arrived to treat the woman inside the airport.

Lt. Col. Phillip Bunton, medical administration officer for the 115th Medical Group, wasn't surprised when he heard of Lane's actions.

"He's certainly one of the most dedicated flight docs that we have and he is always ready to step up and volunteer," Bunton said. "He makes himself available, even in between drill weekends, all the time."

This isn't Lane's first experience with helping someone outside of the normal doctor's smock or flight suit he wears on a daily basis. In 1998, he was asked by pilots aboard a flight to Florida to assist a flight attendant who was having a panic attack at the rear of the plane. He also assisted emergency responders following a motorcycle accident outside of Milwaukee. He was on his way home from training as a flight doctor with the Milwaukee-based 440th Air Reserve Wing at the time.

Lane, a 1984 graduate of Michigan State University with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, admits he really enjoys opportunities to serve as a Good Samaritan.

I'm proud to have skills that can help other people in need," he said. "I almost like it more on a random basis than when I'm being paid. It seems more pure that way."

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