Surprise Help to the Rescue During Southwest Emergency

20 doctors stood up to help sick man who'd passed out during the flight
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2017 1:29 PM CDT
Updated Mar 18, 2017 9:35 AM CDT
Ask for One Doctor on a Southwest Flight, Get 20
Scary stuff on Southwest, but doctors came to the rescue.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a panicked cry for help on a plane can bring almost two dozen. That was the experience on a Southwest Airlines flight from Atlanta to Houston last week, NBC News reports, when retired Air Force Col. Tom McCay fell unconscious as he and his wife were flying home to Texas. McCay tells KPRC2 he began feeling "clammy" and "dizzy" during the flight, and the last thing he remembers before passing out was his frightened wife, Maggie, asking if he was OK. She started yelling for assistance, and Texas oral surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Aycock was one of the first to respond—followed by about 20 other doctors. Aycock and a few of the doctors stretched McCay across the seats so he could breathe better and so they could take his vitals and stabilize him.

The other 15 or so doctors, meanwhile, hovered close by, ready to assist if needed. It wasn't just some weird coincidence that placed all of these medical professionals on board McCay's plane: They were returning from an annual conference in Atlanta. While Aycock thinks McCay may have fainted because he didn't have enough fluids during the flight, another doctor who helped speculates McCay may have mixed meds and alcohol. McCay tells NBC he got checked out at DeBakey Clinic in Houston once he arrived home and will be self-monitoring. It turns out what happened to him has long been a dream: He'd always harbored a "fantasy" of rushing to help a pilot in distress. "Turns out it was me this time," he tells NBC. (A man flying Alaska Airlines apparently tried to yank the plane's door open midflight.)

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