July 10, 2023
McAllen, TX – On June 6, 2023, Miguel Rodriguez, RN, director of emergency services, and Sarah Quesada, RN, director of telemetry, both at Rio Grande Regional Hospital (RGRH), were traveling via airplane from McAllen to Houston to meet with a patient experience consultant. They noticed a commotion between fellow passengers and flight attendants approximately twenty-five minutes into the flight. A flight attendant saw Rodriguez and Quesada wearing RGRH scrubs, so she rushed toward them and asked if they could assist with a medical emergency.
“We quickly headed toward the front of the plane, where we encountered an older gentleman having what appeared to be an absent seizure,” said Rodriguez. “He had contracted extremities and a blank stare into the ceiling. His wife was frightened and panicked.”
Rodriguez determined the man was unresponsive while Quesada checked for and confirmed a carotid pulse. Rodriguez unbuttoned the gentleman’s shirt, and when he noticed slow and shallow respirations, he initiated a sternal rub. Rodriguez and Quesada continued to respond to the patient’s needs while comforting and calming the emotionally terrified wife.
“After a few seconds of sternal rub, the gentleman responded,” said Quesada. “Although he was diaphoretic and frail, he began to speak, and with the help of another passenger, we placed a smartwatch on the gentleman’s wrist to monitor his heart rate and oxygen saturation.”
Rodriguez and Quesada discussed the signs and symptoms they observed and concluded it was most likely a cardiac-related event. They placed the patient on oxygen and continued to accompany the gentleman and his wife for the remainder of the flight.
Upon landing, medics boarded the plane, and Rodriguez and Quesada assisted the gentleman onto a wheelchair while giving their report. The wife hugged and thanked the nurse heroes.
“I am glad my ER training allowed me to provide care alongside Sarah and that we were able to keep the wife calm during this stressful event,” said Rodriguez