It was a holiday to remember for one Middlesex University nursing student who was called on to provide life-saving medical assistance in mid-air.
First year student Dominic Lenaghan, 26, of Mill Hill, who only started his BSc in Adult Nursing in September 2009, was 1.5 hours from Chicago airport where he was due to take a connecting flight to Los Angeles for a Christmas break when the call went out for a doctor or nurse on his plane.
Dominic said: “I thought ‘I’m not registered yet’ but I stood up and told staff I was a nursing student and they said ‘you’re the only one who’s come forward’.
“They took me to the back of the plane where there was a guy who was having real difficulty breathing. He had an asthma inhaler in his hand. I think they thought he was having an asthma attack but his lips were very swollen. I have seen anaphylactic shock before and knew that was what I was looking at so it was a case of trying to think logically and knowing if he was that allergic he would have an EpiPen (an autoinjecting needle with a dose of adrenaline).
“I’d been on the plane for about seven hours but I was trying to think on my feet. So I got the stewardess to look through his hand luggage and there was an EpiPen, which I administered.”
“I’m a cub leader and one of our kids has an egg allergy but he also carries an inhaler as well, it can seem very similar at the beginning I’ve been told.”
“The week before I left I had my emergency life-saving training. The instructor said ‘you never know where you are going to use this, on a plane, on a train...’ so he jinxed me!”
Dominic, who was a healthcare assistant for five years before starting his nursing degree, stayed with the patient for the rest of the flight and was personally thanked by the captain after landing.
Astonishingly, Dominic’s uncle was hospitalised the day of his arrival and his brother’s fiancée went into labour two-and-a-half months early.
“My whole holiday was spent visiting people in hospital and sorting out my uncle’s medication,” he said.
After all the practical experience during the break, Dominic was happy to get back to some theory at Middlesex. He said: “I really enjoy the course and I chose the university because of how passionate the lecturers were about their subject when I came here to meet them, especially compared to the other universities I applied to.”