On the way to an airport Friday for a last-bash vacation in Greece before starting their second year of medical school, Lauren Bagneris and Heather Duplessis wondered if someone might turn to them for help on the flight.
“We were definitely mentally preparing, and I don’t know if that was just God putting us in the right mind-set for that situation,” Bagneris said. “We’ve never discussed anything like that before.”
Later that day after leaving New Orleans for the first leg of their journey, the friends were sitting near the back of the plane when Bagneris’s sister, also on the trip, saw another passenger fall. Then a flight attendant called for a medical professional.
“We waited a second to make sure no actual medical professionals were around to respond,” said Duplessis, 25. “When no one responded, that’s when we identified ourselves as med students. They said, ‘Definitely, we could use your help.’ ”
A baby was born mid-flight over the Pacific. A viral TikTok video captured the scene and first cries.
In a Facebook post, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans said a passenger who was overheated and suffering from low blood sugar had gotten lightheaded and fallen.
Bagneris said they took a history assessment, found out what the passenger had been doing that morning and asked about medical conditions. Working with a flight attendant who was in communication with a doctor on the ground, they took the woman’s blood pressure, pulse and blood glucose level.
“They calmed the patient and got her to take some juice and food, and also cooled her off,” the university’s post said. “The patient ended up feeling much better thanks to these two talented doctors in the making and their LSU medical education.”
The school added: “Way to Geaux Tigers! You do us proud!!!”
For Bagneris and Duplessis, friends since undergrad at Louisiana State University and both in the MD/Master of Public Health program, working together was nothing new. They had partnered in training over the past year to work on checking vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse rate.
“I think we work well as a team,” Bagneris said.
It was an eventful way to kick off a 10-day vacation in Greece meant to give the students a final chance to kick back and relax before medical school starts again.
After landing in New York, Bagneris, her sisters and Duplessis had to rush to their connecting flight. To protect the patient’s privacy, they declined to reveal the airline they were flying on.
The long leg to Greece brought much less action: movies, music and not much else.
“We’re happy nothing went wrong on that flight,” Duplessis said.
After arriving in Greece on Saturday local time, the group has been island hopping and dealing with the shock as news of their experience emerges back home. Duplessis said her data already ran out after getting so many messages.
They are also mentally preparing for the trip back home, just in case they run into a repeat situation.
“Our main hope is that there are other, more qualified, medical professionals onboard,” Duplessis said. But if not, “we’ll do the same thing over again.”
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