Passenger saved by 'Florence Nightingale'

A Kerala nurse travelling to Delhi to receive an award for her work has been lauded for saving the life of a fellow passenger on the flight.

Ms P. Geetha was on her way last Sunday to attend a ceremony honouring recipients of the Florence Nightingale Award for Nurses.

But just 30 minutes after take-off from Kannur airport, the cabin crew called for emergency medical assistance as Indian Army soldier Suman, who was travelling to Jammu and Kashmir, had fainted in his seat and his pulse could not be detected.

"I started administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) with him still in his seat," Ms Geetha told the BBC.

"One of my colleagues had collapsed like this in the hospital, so I administered CPR and rushed her to the cardiac intensive care unit.

"There were several other similar cases in the hospital but this is the first time I had to do this on a flight."

Mr Suman's pulse returned following the CPR and fellow passenger, Dr Prem Kumar, hooked him up to a bag of intravenous fluids.

"After about an hour or so, Suman was able to eat something," Ms Geetha recalled.

"lt was difficult to tend to him initially as he was seated. We fashioned a stretcher out of the in-flight blankets to carry him to the rear of the plane. I sat beside him for the rest of the journey."

Once the plane landed in Delhi, a medical team rushed Mr Suman to a hospital, where he was warded to recover.

Dr Mohammed Asheel, a World Health Organization officer who was on the same flight, told BBC that he had thought that Ms Geetha was Mr Suman's relative when she and others rushed to help him.

"I saw a woman attending to the patient and three other doctors - one an emergency care specialist - rushed to the seat," he said.

After the flight landed, Dr Asheel spoke to Ms Geetha and was surprised to learn that she had received the Best Nurse award in 2019 from the Kerala government.

"It is such a strange coincidence that she saved a life mid-air en route to Delhi to be felicitated by the President for receiving the Florence Nightingale award," said Dr Asheel.

Ms Geetha won the Florence Nightingale Award for Nurses in 2020 but the ceremony had to be conducted virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She and other past winners were then invited to Delhi to be honoured by President Droupadi Murmu.

Her award citation refers to her work during the deadly Nipah virus outbreak that hit Kerala in 2018.

She was also involved in disaster management operations during the massive floods in the state in 2018 and 2019 as well as the battle against Covid-19.

Ms Geetha, who started her career at the government medical college hospital in Kozhikode, later worked in hospitals across the state.

She is currently working at a private hospital in Kozhikode after retiring from government service earlier this year.

"It is such a strange coincidence that she saved a life mid-air en route to Delhi to be felicitated by the President for receiving the Florence Nightingale award."

- Dr Mohammed Asheel

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