As our flight took off out of New York, I tilted my chair back and closed my eyes anticipating a smooth flight and a solid four hours of sleep before arriving in Grenada for the first day of my adventure with the Public Health Action Support Team. When I told my friends and family I was heading to the Caribbean for spring break, most people didn’t expect for me to tell them that I was heading there to focus on chronic disease prevention. In fact, usually when people think of the Caribbean they think of sunny beaches and relaxation, not diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
About an hour into my flight I was awoken by people scrambling down the aisle way, a woman shouting for help, and bumps against the back of my chair. I turned around to see what all the commotion was about and directly behind my seat people were gathered around a man who appeared to be in an unconscious state.
“Is he having a stroke?” someone asked.
“I’m a doctor.” Someone else said.
“He’s diabetic! He’s in a coma!” said a woman whom seemed close to him.
As time passed, the situation began to stabilize and the man started to converse with his family members.
I fly relatively often and I have never witnessed a medical emergency on a flight. Suddenly the reality of the work that we will be doing this week became very real. Sure…there will be sunny beaches and fun, but there is also much work to be done and we are here to put our education and skills to use.