First published in the Feb. 4 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Two Glendale first responders provided lifesaving assistance to a 76-year-old woman on a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles in the morning of Jan. 29.
Glendale Fire Department EMS Battalion Chief Todd Tucker and Glendale Police Department Sgt. Sharon Kim were aboard a flight to Los Angeles International Airport, returning from a weeklong Emergency Medical Services conference, according to a city statement.
Two hours into the flight, Tucker and Kim were alerted by fellow passengers and an announcement over the airplane’s intercom asking for medical assistance to aid a passenger who was lying unconscious in the aisle.
Tucker made his way over to the patient and “found that she was suffering from low blood pressure and low blood sugar and was going in and out of consciousness.” He then prepped an IV bag for fluids, administered glucose, medication and utilized a smart watch with EKG abilities, to determine if her heart rhythm was abnormal, according to the statement.
During the assessment and treatment of the patient, Tucker was in constant communication with the FAA Med Link Doctor Service.
Kim, who is an emergency medical technician, immediately joined Tucker in the rear of the airplane. She quickly cleared the area for the patient in the event they would need to administer CPR. She assisted with tracking vital signs, administering oxygen and providing updates to the patient’s family and flight crew members.
Tucker determined that with continuous monitoring and the medical supplies they had on board, he would be able to keep the patient stable and continue on with the flight to LAX.
For the next three hours, Tucker and Kim remained on the floor with the passenger — continuing to provide medical aid — until landing, when the Los Angeles Fire Department was able to safely remove her from the plane. The patient returned home with her family from the airport.
Tucker said that having the experience and skill of Kim also was crucial to saving the passenger.
“In such an unexpected situation, it was comforting not being alone and having a competent, professional and friendly partner to share the experience with,” he said.
According to the city, Glendale has previously highlighted the benefit to the community of having police officers medically trained as EMTs to provide treatment for patients until fire department resources arrived.
“Stepping in to assist someone in distress is an act of selflessness,” said Glendale Police Chief Manuel Cid. “The actions taken by Glendale Fire Department Battalion Chief Tucker and Glendale Police Department Sgt. Kim are a testament to their training and character. Chief Ernst and I are proud to lead organizations that consistently work to protect others. I commend Battalion Chief Tucker and Sgt. Kim for their quick response and look forward to the continued partnership between our organizations.”
The Glendale Police Department has 32 officers trained as EMTs and two paramedics who regularly use their medical skills in emergencies.