From Down Under…The Airplane Seats

May 3, 2011
By Griffin Dietz SILVER, Pacific Palisades, California
Griffin Dietz SILVER, Pacific Palisades, California
6 articles 3 photos 8 comments

I never understood why people were afraid to fly, but I was on an airplane today, and for the first time, I realized that things could go wrong. No, my flight didn’t crash into the ocean, or even onto land for that matter. But we did need to make an emergency landing.
I was sitting in my seat by the window, happy as could be given the fact that I had been stuck in that same seat for the past three hours reading a book for school that I didn’t want to read. We were on our way to Detroit from Los Angeles when the older lady in the row in front of me passed out. She was walking back to her chair from the bathroom when I heard a thump as she hit the seat, and then another as she hit the floor. 64-year-old Marian was out cold, lying in the aisle with her fuzzy pink sweater, gray sweats, and untied white sneakers. Everyone around me jumped up; I didn’t because I had no clue what I would do if I did. Then again, most of the people who did jump up were then just awkwardly standing there, without knowing what to do themselves. Someone finally had the idea to ring the flight attendant call button, not that it did much with the attendant who was up front in the galley, who was either deaf to the noise that alerts a call, an aspiring actor pretending to be deaf, or, most likely, cranky and hating his job.
At last, the other flight attendant, a sweet woman, probably in her early thirties, saw what happened and came rushing forward toward our row (16, by the way) only to go rushing back to the rear of the plane to find the emergency medical bag stuffed into an overhead compartment. Mr. Cranky, as I dubbed the other flight attendant, had by then noticed the commotion on his flight and notified the pilot, who immediately asked “any medical professionals on board” to go row 15. One doctor (a hand surgeon) and a nurse showed up to help. The doctor and nurse quickly found the stethoscope and set up an IV (the bag for which was held up by a surprised lady sitting two rows in front of me), but were unable to find a blood pressure cuff. Reassuring, right?
Meanwhile, the inner writer in me had me scrambling for paper to take notes so I would be able to write this all accurately later, and I settled on the blankest pages I could find in the American Way magazine.
Marian’s husband, Dave, was looking through the bags to show the doctors his wife’s medications. He pulled out Crestor, among other pills, but it was a bit too late for that, right? Between the prescription display and the nurse’s questioning, I think I managed to learn Marian’s entire medical history via observation.
It was a relief when Marian woke up and started answering those questions you’d see doctors ask concussion victims in television. You know the ones: What is your name? or What year is it?. Who is the current president of the United States? wasn’t as applicable, seeing as Marian and Dave were from Australia.
The pilot announced an emergency landing in Omaha, Nebraska. Would it be cruel to say that part of me was excited? My family ‘collects’ states, and I had never been to Nebraska before. Marian remained in the aisle (throwing up, I may add) while we landed, with the doctor and nurse at her head and feet, respectively. By the time the pilot called our final approach, we were practically on the ground, and considering we landed with extra fuel, we had a fairly smooth landing.
The Omaha Fire and Rescue ambulance was at the gate waiting for us, along with two fire trucks and two police cars. Four paramedics, in their navy blue Fire and Rescue shirts, came onto the plane with an orange stretcher, and as the firemen struggled to get Marian onto the stretcher, I heard one mutter in frustration, “There’s not enough room here.” And it was true. If you have been on a plane, you know that there is hardly enough room to pass another person in an aisle, not to mention getting four hulking firemen in one place to move an extra-wide old lady onto a stretcher. Finally Marian was loaded and strapped in, and was told to hug herself as they carried her away, followed by a surprisingly calm husband who carried their bags and thanked the “medical professionals.”
The flight attendant came with newspaper and a blanket to cover the vomit and urine on the floor (lovely, right?), and announced to the plane, “Please do no step on the red blanket. Step over the red blanket!” We spent the next two hours on the ground in Omaha, as they (whoever ‘they’ are) checked and recalibrated the hydraulics on our plane after our heavy landing, and, thankfully, cleaned the floor. We landed in Detroit two hours after expected.

Similar Articles


This article has 4 comments.

on Jun. 6 2011 at 5:57 pm
Griffin Dietz SILVER, Pacific Palisades, California
6 articles 3 photos 8 comments
I'm glad you enjoyed the story

Fluffy said...
on Jun. 6 2011 at 9:08 am
Griffin;  I like the way you find humour in an unpleasant experience and do it without hurting anybody's feelings.  I'm guessing Marion would even enjoy your story.

on Jun. 6 2011 at 12:20 am
Griffin Dietz SILVER, Pacific Palisades, California
6 articles 3 photos 8 comments
thanks so much

xonky said...
on Jun. 3 2011 at 11:18 pm
xonky, Los Angeles, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
i really like this, and i like how you were frantic to find paper and used a flight magazine...good thinking :D

Parkland Book