Rep. Bill Cassidy slips into doctor mode on flight

(Photo by Chad Chenier, courtesy of Bill Cassidy)
(Photo by Chad Chenier, courtesy of Bill Cassidy)

Bill Cassidy is a congressman, a Senate candidate, and a doctor.  Only one of those skill sets came in handy Monday during a flight from New Orleans to Baltimore, when the Louisiana Republican jumped into action to assist a fellow passenger who had become ill and fainted.

“It’s all in the training,” Cassidy tells us of summoning medical skills on the fly.  While travelling to Washington for Monday-evening votes, Cassidy responded to a flight attendant’s request for doctors on board to help the sick man, who was sitting next to an anesthesiologist who also happened to be on board. The two doctors tried to locate his pulse and, just when Cassidy was considering looking for a defibrillator, the patient began to wake.  He says they kept him comfortable and monitored him until the flight landed.

It wasn’t the first time Cassidy has been pressed into medical service. Both he and his wife, who is a surgeon, have assisted sick airline passengers before, he says. Just the nature of the job, we suppose — after all, there are few scenarios that call for urgent emergency legislating skills (“Somebody draft me an amendment, stat!” isn’t a phrase we’ve heard.)

Monday’s medical saga has a happy ending — the patient was conscious and conversing with EMTs when they met the plane. Cassidy says the experience affirmed his belief in people’s general goodness: No one, he said, complained about the inconvenience of having drink service cut off or movement in the aisles restricted, and the flight crew were pros. “Everyone acted either completely professionally, or as if this man was their neighbor,” he said. “It was ‘do unto others.’”

And Cassidy arrived at the Capitol in plenty of time for those votes.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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