A Glendale Fire Department battalion chief was a hero on flight to Los Angeles International Airport, providing medical aid to an unconscious 76-year-old woman.
Todd Tucker was aboard United Airlines Flight 1789 from Tampa, Florida Sunday, where he and Glendale Police Department Sgt. Sharon Kim had attended an emergency medical services conference.
Two hours into the flight, Tucker heard an announcement requesting assistance from a doctor or medical professional. Tucker, a paramedic, immediately stood up and rushed toward the rear of the plane, where he was joined by Kim, an emergency medical technician.
The woman was lying unconscious in the aisle, according to Anita Shandi, the Glendale Fire Department’s deputy director of fire administration.
Tucker immediately requested an automated external defibrillator and medical supply kits that were on board from the flight attendants, Shandi said. He assessed the patient and determined she was suffering from low blood pressure and low blood sugar and was going in and out of consciousness.
Kim quickly cleared the area for the patient in the event they would need to administer CPR, Shandi said.
“He quickly started to prep an IV bag for fluids, administer glucose, medication, and utilize the patient’s son’s smartwatch that had EKG abilities, to determine if her heart rhythm was abnormal,” Shandi said. “After providing fluids and glucose, the patient’s blood pressure and sugar level began to normalize.”
Kim assisted with tracking vital signs administering oxygen, and providing updates to the patient’s family and flight crew members, Shandi said.
The pilot asked Tucker if the plane needed to be diverted to a closer airport. Tucker confirmed that the woman was stabilized with the medical supplies on board and the flight could continue to Los Angeles International Airport as scheduled.
For the next three hours, Tucker and Kim remained on the floor with the patient continuing to provide medical aid until landing. The woman was taken from the plane by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and was able to go home from the airport with her family, Shandi said.
Tucker said Kim’s experience and skill were crucial.
“In such an unexpected situation, it was comforting not being alone and having a competent, professional, and friendly partner to share the experience with,” Tucker said.