Doctor who saved passenger's life on flight was on his way to Dubai for first job in UAE

With the help of a nurse, crew, he performed CPR on the patient for close to 45 minutes


Nasreen Abdulla

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Image used for illustrative purpose.
Image used for illustrative purpose.

Published: Sun 29 May 2022, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 May 2022, 10:23 PM

Dr Shabeer Ahmed was very excited to take up his first job in the UAE as he boarded the flight. Shabeer was looking forward to working in the country he grew up and did part of his schooling.

However, he didn’t have to wait long to start working. Dr Shabeer was on the Go Air flight from Kannur to Dubai on May 8 when a passenger complained about some difficulties. When the crew paged for a doctor, he didn’t think twice about volunteering.

"When I reached the patient, he was unconscious," said Dr Shabeer. "There was a nurse to assist me, the crew was trained, and the medical kit was well-equipped. We performed CPR on him for close to 45 minutes. We thought we had lost him. The pilot asked whether he should divert the plane to Mumbai for emergency medical assistance. But by God's grace, before the plane was diverted, we were able to get a pulse of the patient, and he started breathing again. It was a very scary situation."

The day after landing, Dr Shabeer joined NMC Royal Hospital Dubai Investment Park as a Specialist Gastroenterologist in his first job in the UAE. “I have always wanted to come (back) here,” said Dr Shabeer. “I used to live here as a child. Also, the opportunity of treating people in a cosmopolitan city is really interesting. Just last week, I had patients from Ukraine and Brazil. It is really a great experience to be able to interact with people of such varied backgrounds.”

Responding to a medical emergency

Dr Shabeer Ahmed cautioned all residents to remain calm in such stressful situations and shared some tips:

1. Basic First Aid- People need to have some sort of basic training in first aid. There are several courses available all around the UAE. Some courses also include training to use the defibrillator (a device that sends an electric pulse or shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat). Basic first aid training can make the difference between saving and losing a life. In cases of cardiac arrest, giving CPR until medical help arrives can help preserve life. It is advisable for everyone to take a basic first aid course

2. Medical Kit- A well-stocked medical kit is extremely important. Whether on a plane, at a school or a stadium, there should be a medical kit with cardiac medication to improve pulse, emergency medication for pulmonary edema, medicine for asthma patients, etc. This could mean a world of difference during an emergency.

3. Do Not Panic- A calm demeanour will help people think more clearly. Panic induces a partial shutdown of the pre-frontal cortex that helps us in critical thinking and memory retention. This can make responding to an emergency difficult. If there is an emergency and you find yourself panicking, practice some deep breathing and try repeating a phrase like “It’s going to be ok” to yourself. These are some techniques that will help calm your fight-or-flight response.

4. Call for help and give clear instructions- If the emergency requires immediate medical attention, call for help. If you are in a crowded area, loudly ask for a doctor. If you have access to a phone, call the first responders. And once you call for help, give them clear instructions on what the emergency is and where to find you. These instructions will save valuable minutes that can save a person’s life.


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