It was a life or death moment. I was sitting on a plane, annoyed because I’d left my hotel at 4 AM for a flight which was cancelled, then rushed to another airport to make this flight—which was also delayed. Now I was going to arrive at my destination very late, have a long drive, and attend a critical client meeting that evening.
Then, in an instant, my circumstances seemed trivial.
A young man, sitting in the row in front of me, starts to shake uncontrollably. Suddenly, he goes into convulsions. His mother screams and virtually collapses. His father is obviously panicked. Quickly, two flight attendants rush down the aisle. A female passenger quickly comes forward, states, “I’m a doctor,” and gets engaged. Another passenger jumps up and says, “I’m a nurse!”
In a matter of seconds, four professionals are tending to the young man, who is gasping for life. He was passing out. They struggle to get juice and sugar water into his system. The pilot comes on the loud speaker and says, “We may need to make an emergency landing!” Swiftly, the doctor pulls a syringe out of her bag and injects the patient. The tension in the air is palpable. This frenetic activity continues for about twenty minutes, until this ad hoc team of doctor, nurse, and flight attendants finally stabilizes the young man and comforts his parents.
Later I learn, the young man went into diabetic shock.
While our organization works with the American Diabetes Association, and we see all the great work they do, I never had a full appreciation for the impact of a diabetic shock, nor witnessed it firsthand. Also, although I have flown millions of miles over the years, I never had a full appreciation for flight attendants’ primary job: to keep us safe.
In my life, I have seen many beautiful examples of goodness and generosity, but this was a shining example of humanity at its best.
In a world too often filled with divisiveness and pessimism, it’s nice to be reminded of the best we have to offer each other. After a brief emergency at 30 thousand feet, my faith in humanity has been restored.
Don McKenzie is President & Chief Growth Officer of Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com; subscribe to our newsletter here; and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.