As Dr. Bernard Kim flew home from a family trip, he was reminded that a physician is never truly off duty.
“We were coming back from a vacation and asked for medical assistance on the plane,” he recalled. “When I arrived, the patient was in cardiac arrest.”
Dr. Kim knew exactly what to do. So too did the couple of nurses and paramedic who happened to be on the Delta Air Lines flight from South Korea to Atlanta.
“We did CPR for about 15 minutes or so,” Dr. Kim said. “By the time we landed, he (the patient) was awake.”
The flight made an unscheduled stop in Minneapolis for the patient to receive further medical care.
Dr. Kim said the skills needed in this midair emergency weren’t all that out of the ordinary given his specialization in critical care medicine, internal medicine and pulmonology.
“It’s pretty routine for us to do CPR on patients,” he said. “I remember thinking, this is what I trained for.”
Dr. Kim said he hoped the experience served as a reminder to members of the public that learning bystander CPR is crucial.
“It’s really important,” he said. “It’s a valuable skill we hope we never have to use, but it can make all the difference.”