“Is There a Doctor On Board?” | My Experience

“Is There a Doctor On Board?” | My Experience


Is there a doctor on board? Now these words uttered by a flight attendant are sure to get anyone’s heart racing,
especially a doctor’s. This is my story. [music playing] Okay, so before we dive in, it’s important to understand how medical school, medical training in the US works. Now we do four years of medical school and in the last couple months of your fourth year between matching to residency, which happens in mid-march and the end of June, you don’t really have that much to do. A lot of students, myself included,
we usually take this time for either easy rotations, research rotations,
or not having any rotations. And we use that time to travel
because once you’re in residency, you don’t really have much of a chance
to actually travel internationally, enjoy yourself, things like that. So my friends and I, we had created our schedule
for our fourth year of medical school such that it was front-heavy, so that at the end, we actually didn’t have class that we
needed to take. So we decided to travel and what better place than Bali
to celebrate graduating medical school. Now once you graduate medical school,
you have your MD and you’re a doctor. And then you have to do anywhere
between three and seven years of residency in whatever specialty you choose. Okay, so my friends had left before me
and I was catching up. So just me, you know, on the tarmac,
in this plane, SFO Airport. We hadn’t taken off yet and then I hear
over the loudspeaker… “Is there a doctor on board?
We require your assistance.” And I’m sitting there like, “Hmm… I wonder what the medical emergency
could be?” Since I was not a doctor, I was a medical student. A fourth-year med student. I had completed all of my training and was essentially just waiting
until graduation. I was like, “You know what, not a doctor.
Med student. I’m gonna sit down. This is an international flight.
There are hundreds of people on this plane. I’m sure there is a doctor here,
that’s gonna get up, volunteer and handle the situation.” So I sit there, you know, return to
like texting or getting excited about this Bali trip. And then a few minutes later, I hear again. “Excuse me, is there a doctor on board?
We require your assistance.” And now I’m getting a little bit stressed because on one hand I feel responsible,
like I should do something but on the other hand I’m, like,
“Well, I’m literally finishing my fourth year. I’m in like relaxation chill mode and what if this is something that I can’t handle. What if, what if it’s an MI, what if it’s,
you know, syncope. How am I gonna work this up?” Like, “Do I remember everything that I need
to know to handle such a situation.” After about 20-30 seconds of contemplating,
I realized that none of that really mattered. There could be someone in need and I could go up
and see if I could help and if not, not a big deal. So I get up and I find this group
of flight attendants around a bathroom. I’m like, “Oh man, someone must have
passed out. What could this be? All right what would I do
to work up A, B, C and D.” And I walk up, I say, “Excuse me, I’m not a doctor,
I’m a medical student but what is going on?” Now there was a little bit of a language barrier so I’m not sure if they understood
that I was a med student not a doctor. But you know, they moved me forward
and I see this mother and her daughter. Now guess what the medical emergency could be. Again, we’re– The plane is now delayed,
we’re still grounded not taken off yet and we are delayed
because of this medical emergency in the bathroom. Let me surprise you. It was a tick! That’s right. A tick. So, the mother had found a tick
on her daughter’s thigh. Her daughter was maybe 3 or 4 years old and the mother was very visibly distressed
because of this tick. And she’s, like, “Oh my God!
What are we gonna do? Like I can’t– We can’t take off.
We gotta take care of this.” I’m like, “Ma’am don’t worry. This is–“, you know,
well, we should be taking a tick off within 24 hours of it first attaching to
the patient just because you want to minimize the risk of any disease
transmission, especially the Lyme disease.” But you know, what’s 20 minutes between, you know, doing it right there
and then waiting till we take off. So I calmed the mother down. I explained to her, “Hey, you know,
this is not something that’s super urgent. We can take care of it as soon as we take off
and once the seat belt sign comes off.” So I calm her down. Go back to our seats. So I sit down, of course,
pull up UpToDate on my phone, I still have reception because
we haven’t taken off yet, and I take a screenshot of the instructions. Again, it’s very simple to remove a tick
but anyways, we take off, we’re in the air and as soon as
the fasten seat belt sign comes off, boom! The mother and the father
and the daughter are right by my side, back in the plane and they’re like,
“Oh, can you help us now? I’m like, “Sure!” You know again, I’m a med student,
I’m not a doctor so here the instructions and I pull out my phone and
I show them the screen shot, which was like steps 1 through 6. Very straightforward, not a big deal. They are like, “Oh no, no, no you do it!” And in that moment I’m thinking… “Okay, the Good Samaritan Law
probably doesn’t apply here. We’re now flying internationally.
I’m not in the States. Any malpractice, any liability.
Is this a good idea?” And then I realized, “You know what,
it’s a tick, not a big deal.” So we get out, we go to the back and you know, mom pulls onto her toddler and I grab some tweezers and then you can
gently want to remove the tick. You don’t want to separate the head from the body, and you don’t want to squeeze out the
contents. Other than that, it’s pretty simple. Pull it out. Ziploc bag. Seal it. Done! And that was that. So then the mother and the father are so grateful. They’re like, “Oh thank you doctor! I’m like, “Hey, med student!” But, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.” I’m like, “Really not a problem. My pleasure. I’m happy I could help out, you know. Take care.” And, you know, we had a great conversation. They were in Vermont, which is an area
that does have Lyme disease. So I’m glad that we took off the tick and you know, and then I’m heading
back to my seat and then the flight attendants stopped me
and they’re like, “Oh thank you doctor, thank you doctor.” I’m like, “Med student!” And they were also so grateful. And they like treated me
like a celebrity for the rest of the flight. It was hilarious, actually. So first they were serving food and they gave me extra food just because I had helped this fellow
passenger out. They gave me ice cream. They just like brought ice cream for me for free. They brought me like alcohol. It was– It was crazy. Free alcohol, free ice cream, just because I had removed a tick,
like seriously, the easiest thing you can do on an airplane
in such a situation, right. I really lucked out. And that was that. So then, you know, we’re flying, smooth sailing. I think I arrived in like Tokyo or Taipei and then from there went to Bali. And I told my friends about this. And my friends were, like, “Whoa, Kevin. Someone said is there a doctor on board
and you…” and again we’re all fourth year
med students at this time. They are like “you got up?” Some of them were like,
“Wow, Kevin you’re really brave.” Some of the other ones were like,
“I would never do that, that was foolish of you. What if it was something you couldn’t handle?” So mix of responses
and the main lessons I took were number 1, when I changed– When I shifted perspective and wasn’t really worrying about myself, because in that moment that before, you know, I was hesitating even after
they called it a second time for like 20-30 seconds, I was
like, “Ooh, what if I can’t handle this? You know, I’m, I’m just a fourth year med student
not a doctor yet.” And when I realized that it wasn’t about me, it was about someone
who could be having an emergency. Maybe it was something
that was way over my head. Maybe my basic ACLS training
would not have sufficed or maybe it was something
that I just couldn’t handle. That being said, I could help. I wasn’t going to make the situation worse. So that’s what I told my friends, you know. In this situation it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about, “Oh am I a doctor?
Am I a med student? No I’m only a couple months away
to complete my requirements.” That’s not important. What’s important is that
someone needs help and I could possibly help. Because I have the medical training,
I have this skill set that not everyone has. So that was number one. Number two, I felt really privileged in that moment to be going into the career of medicine, to be a physician because
the way that you can help people in their times of need is such a–
It’s a very satisfying and rewarding experience. And not because of the free
ice cream or the free alcohol, but it just, it feels good to connect
with another person and walk them through a situation where they are distressed, where they’re not happy,
where they’re not in a good place and help them through that. It’s just– It kind of comes back to the whole like, how do you find meaning, purpose
and happiness in life? It has to be something outside of yourself. If you are just constantly seeking, you know, “I just want to be happy, I just wanna be happy.”
You’re never ever gonna be happy. But if you instead have a mission to help others or provide value in a way
that doesn’t just focus on yourself, you actually benefit much more. So anyways, that is my story. I feel very privileged to have been able
to help someone in their time of need, even if it was something as small as a tick
needing o be removed, really not a medical emergency. But I hope you enjoyed that. If you have any stories
about when you were on a plane and there was a medical emergency, I’d love to hear it down in the comments below. And I will see you guys in that next one. [music playing]


100 thoughts on ““Is There a Doctor On Board?” | My Experience

  1. Hey! I'm an entomologist who has additional training in acarology (mites/ticks). Also premed.

    Good job with the tick. You were right. If you're able, always keep the tick. Put it in a plastic baggie or other container. You should freeze it if possible. Then take it to a diagnostic laboratory/public health agency for analysis of possible disease and species identification.

  2. If you have a tooth flossing wire take it around the tick, spin it around a few times and then pull, you get away most of it

  3. Doctors are forbidden to reveal themselves in this kind of situations in my country. Ministry can force them to pay fine and even cancel their medical licenses.

  4. Hey. You might want to do more research on Lyme disease; it’s in every state and almost every country. Lyme can also be transmitted within hours in some cases. You’re right about 20 mins not really being a deal breaker but as someone who has chronic Lyme from a tick bite in Canada, it’s definitely not something someone wants. I did get treated right after being bit, 4 weeks of antibiotics was not sufficient.

  5. I was the one needing a doctor on board once. Apparently flight attendants make a big deal when someone gets air sick on an international flight.

  6. My friend was on a International flight and he is allergic to tree nuts. They served cashews and even though he didn’t eat them his throat started to close! They asked if there was a Doctor onboard (there was) so then the doctor sat with him. The flight attendant wouldn’t let him use his epiPen!! And at this point he is going into anaphylactic‘s!! Point is if you are allergic to tree nuts sit in coach😅

  7. Even if you are doctor can you actually help in emergency situations, without certificate for emergency.Smth like that really not sure about the name, but i think you need a certificate for it.Or else you are not allowed to do anything.You can even go prision for helping.

  8. Couple month ago I attended a medical training for emergencies on airplanes for doctors and paramedics.
    The speaker told us that all flight attendants really appreciate it when you tell them you have medical training in any way while boarding the plane.
    My experience vary…
    Got a couple of flights with Emirates and Ryanair. When I told them that I'm a (don't know the equivalent in English speaking room) EMT and nurse some flight attendens were really grateful and were writing down where I was sitting others were like "Ok, do you have your certificates with you?"

    Anyways…although I never had to help I guess I would get up and do my best.

  9. -"Is there a doctor on board!?"
    -"Will my 15 seasons of Grey's Anatomy suffice? I have shadowed amazing surgeons like Meredith Grey, Derek Shepard, Amelia Shepard, Mark Sloan (continues to name characters"

  10. Bro, you pulled up UpToDate to remove a freakin tick? Come on man, it’s not like she was exhibiting SSXs of DKA or something

  11. 2nd year Med Student here. Proud to hear and see about a senior in the fraternity helping out a person in time of need, without overthinking of the medicolegal problems.
    Good Samaritan is a way of living, I suppose…not exactly a "law"….. 🙂

  12. I fly frequently and it’s happened twice to me. I’ve always wanted to say yes for the joke because I have a doctorate in archaeology but at the same time I don’t want to act like an idiot haha

  13. Hahahaha a TICK! that was a surprise when I read the title I thought there was going to be some pneumothorax or something😂😂

  14. Damn, i chose Dentistry over General Medicine.I like dentistry and all but i love saving lives and people treat me with respect as a doctor or after you save someone.Man oh man i sure hope i didn't fuck up.

  15. What about doctor failure stories? Have you had any? I mean, volunteering and unable to do something in a situation..

  16. That is actually pretty funny, patient’s perceptions of what an emergency is. I have to see this every day at work as an emergency physician. I actually had to perform CPR, ventilation via bag valve mask, and the fibrillations times four. As we waited for paramedics to arrive and take over. Www.drer.tv Congrats on getting 480,000 views on this video

  17. Today I learned one thing, how to get first class treatment:
    1.get someone to bring a tick on board.
    2.create a scene until the flight attendant announce that they need a doctor on board
    3.go be the doctor or act like one. Make sure you do it before anyone else does.
    4. Take the tick.
    Now you can get first class meal in exchange for a tick.

  18. I had this exact situation happen to me. I didn't feel confident enough to volunteer as I had only completed 3 of 5 years of medical school. Luckily I think they did have a doctor on board. But I still feel bad today because I can't help but wonder if it would have been like if I did.

  19. I could NEVER be a doctor! Way too much responsibility and liability lol. I am thankful that I never had a passion for medicine and always had a passion for law. Kudos to you and all doctors who decided to become doctors. You have the stamina of a horse!

  20. Have responded multiple times to this call, beginning in medical school… always a nerve wracking experience! I wrote a review article on the subject here… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3789915/

  21. Bali has my heart… Was there a year and a half ago and it is calling me again. Hopefully starting Med School in August so will have to put off for a little bit but will go back. What you are your thoughts on it? Thank you for this, as well. Was at a wedding yesterday and a woman slipped and fell and hit her head. They asked for a doctor twice and no one stepped up. Come to find out there were 3 at this wedding. Always wonder why didn't speak up

  22. You succeeded in removing the tick, u were a celebrity. But it would not have taken a moment to receive a punch in the face if you tore off the tick and that led to some acute allergy of the child during the flight.

  23. I shadowed a cardiologist who said nearly everyone he flies he gets the call “is there a doctor on board” and it’s usually always something serious like someone dying from heart related problems. He said he hates flying because of it. He’s an interventional cardiologists

  24. I have a lil story to share I am a 4th year med student. So as it happened to be i am in a Russian Mall in Russia. A person collapsed near escalator visibly having an epileptic shock . I ran towards him and i put my bag under his head , monitored the time of shock . It crossed 2 min mark which is considered fatal , fortunately i managed to keep people away from the patient . After sometime the guy stood up and went on his way . :-):-):-)

  25. The British Medical Association had an on-line discussion about this a few years ago, from which it appears that some airlines have recently started to ask the "doctor on board" for evidence of their medical licence to transmit to their land-based office to verify before they are allowed to help. One airline (Ryanair?) even asks the doctor to sign a document absolving the airline of liability.

    Three years ago, on a BA flight from London Heathrow to France, a teenage girl had a fatal anaphylactic reaction to sesame seeds in an unlabelled baguette she had bought at Pret a Manger. The doctor who assisted her had graduated at Oxford the day before. The cabin crew abandoned them to take their positions by the doors before landing, because that was their priority, and failed to inform the doctor that they had a defibrillator and an Epi Pen (adrenaline injector) on board. The coroner's expert witness said those omissions made no difference, since the deceased would have been in asystole, and Epi Pens have needles that are too short to get far enough into the muscles of adults.

    One contributor had been asked to help with a medical incident on a cross-channel ferry, and discovered the ship had a well-equipped emergency room. The staff said they used to have their own doctor, but they had found that there was always a doctor among the passengers, so they no longer bothered.

    I read long ago that Imperial Airways, a pre-war forerunner of BA, used to employ trained nurses as stewardesses. Now that US aeroplanes are carrying armed Sky Marshals, might it be useful for them also to have some kind of paramedic among the cabin crew?

  26. All of that just to remove a tick?? You have got to be kidding me… steps on removing a tick?? Like what you have to dance la macarena and then sing despacito while removing the tick? Just take the damn thing off jeeeezz, its not like someone got stabbed and the knife is still inside the person, THEN i understand theres a correct way and steps on removing it.

  27. Wow. Just wow. I watched this video a couple days after it was released and I liked it so much and wondered why this channel doesn't have as much followers as it deserves. Few months later I wanted to find this guy again but I couldn't seem to remember him and at the same time I was following MedschoolInsiders cause the content was always new and fascinating. NOW I realize that both channels belong to Dr Kevin Jubbal and I can't be more surprised! Wow, The world is so small.
    Thank you for your always enlightening and encouraging content Doctor in both channels!! Keep it up! <3

  28. That lil girl could've gotten Lyme…maybe it was stupid lawfully but it shows you must b an amazing human being,now Dr 👍. You deserved the extra,heard the disease is extremely painful,you prevented an illness(it is a huge deal).

  29. My cat gets ticks every other day- I take them off with ease, using my fingernails and taking it off properly and safely.

    Even I get ticks sometimes and I remove them (with tweezers).. to see my friends freak out about them I just got super confused and kinda annoyed 😂

    Edit: I'm 12 too

  30. A tick? Really, really. People are too spoiled sometime, I am from Asia and sleeping next to rats and ticks is like sleeping with your dog. Ticks are like asking for hand slap. Really?

  31. Imagine you went through 4 years of high school, 4 years of medical school, just to take a tick off of somebody on a plane as if it’s a medical emergency

  32. Greetings Dear, I am a middle aged black woman, preparing for medical school and I desire to expand my network; connect with like minded persons…Is it possible to connect with you and other doctors?? It is my hope to hear from you soon….Appreciatively

  33. What I did when they asked
    "Is there a doctor on board?"…
    Waited waited waited 3,4 minutes, they asked 2,3 times. Nobody answered…At the end I answered .
    Thank god It was not an emergency situation, just a dispepsi, abdominal pain. I prescribed anti acid, talcid like thing(because only talcid was in plane) and said go to toilet.
    They wanted to give me miles and miles flight point. I did not know my miles and miles number and said no thanks
    😀

  34. I'm in my 50 yrs old. Is it too late to to go to med school? I already a doctor degree in a different field. Please advise.

  35. In Germany, if they call for a doctor, you as a med student have to get up and show them that you are there to help. If you don't do that and your university finds out or the police, you will get a really heavy punishment in front of court. Hahaha

  36. I’m sorry to laugh at such a thing but it’s sort of like calling someone over for a spider … yeah you don’t wanna rip a tick off because then it’ll break inside he body. They can pull it out … glad nobody died.

  37. So true…. on our way back on Turkish airline a baby died within 30 mins of takeoff…. it all happened so fast .. there was a dr on board but baby didnt make it

  38. Anyone else in his position should also realize that even if the situation is above your head you may be able to help differentiate between symptoms needing emergency care now, vs symptoms that are more benign.

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