Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said in an email that “prior to takeoff, Delta flight 1827 from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta returned to the gate following a customer illness. Medical assistance was provided by the U.S. surgeon general, who worked with our flight crew to aid the customer.”
The condition of the passenger was not immediately clear, though Adams tweeted “patient doing well.”
The surgeon general’s office said in a statement Thursday that Adams and two nurses “responded to a call for emergency help from the Delta flight crew” while the plane was on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
“An individual had lost consciousness and the crew asked for assistance in evaluating,” the statement said. “The patient regained consciousness, but the Surgeon General ultimately determined it was necessary to go back to the gate and have the patient evaluated in the hospital.”
Adams, the statement said, “called the patient’s spouse and explained the situation.”
He and the nurses then escorted the person off the plane “and transitioned care to the medics who were called to the gate,” the surgeon general’s office said, adding: “Patient was stable and thankful for the help.”
An anesthesiologist, Adams was previously Indiana’s health commissioner, and in recent years was best known for his response to an HIV outbreak that left 181 people infected in a rural Indiana county.
He also worked to tamp down panic in the United States over the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, The Washington Post’s Lenny Bernstein reported.
He succeeded Vivek H. Murthy, who was appointed during the Obama administration and was fired in April 2017 from the symbolically important position.
The surgeon general has little power beyond the ability to call attention to serious public health problems and offer information and policy suggestions. He or she oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, more than 6,600 uniformed public health-care personnel who work in various parts of the federal government.
On Thursday, Adams took to Facebook to say that he was “overwhelmed at how much attention” his tweet had received.
“The truth is, there are doctors, nurses, and techs who step up each and every day to respond to emergencies on flights, and they ALL should be recognized and thanked,” he wrote. “My tweet wasn’t about me- it was a way of acknowledging and encouraging ALL of the individuals who step up when duty calls. It was also to give a high five ✋ to those two amazing nurses who responded- a PICU nurse from Cincinnati Children’s and another former ER nurse. With those 2+ me – an anesthesiologist from a level one trauma center- we had a dream TEAM to respond to a medical emergency.”
He also acknowledged “the amazing Delta crew … including the Captain, ✈️ who was as cool as a cucumber!”
“But most of all, I was just really proud to point out that when there’s trouble, the United States Public Health Service Corps can always be counted on to respond,” he added. “When there’s somethin weird, and it don’t good, who ya gonna call?? Not busters- but the #USPHS Corps!!!”