Tag: In-flight medical emergencies

“If There’s a Doctor on Board, Please Ring Your Call Button”


Well, it happened again. Last Thursday evening, I was somewhere over Saskatchewan, returning from a lovely Mediterranean cruise, in that uncomfortable semi-conscious state that passes for sleep when you’re flying coach, when the airplane’s PA system rang out:

“If there’s a doctor on board, please ring your call button!”

If you’re old enough to remember the show “To Tell the Truth,” you know what happened next. In the show, four B-list celebrity judges guess which of three contestants holds a certain unusual job. Once the judges have made their guesses (guided by contestants’ answers to a series of questions), the real skunk breeder, or tea taster, or cemetery lot saleswoman is asked to stand. One contestant begins to rise, then checks herself and sits down. Then another. Finally the correct contestant stands. The audience lets out a collective “oooh.”

I’m guessing that the average packed Boeing 777 has at least a handful of doctor-passengers. When the call comes for a physician, I’m sure a few mutter, “no f-ing way” and go back to their Sudoku. But most, I think, respond like I do: we reach tentatively for our call button then, thinking better of it, stop, look around, start again, then finally push the damn thing. Even as we nobly hit the button, in our heart of hearts we hope that we’re number two – our guilt assuaged but our services unneeded.Continue reading…