Rough Landing for Lt. j.g. Allison Murray

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Shipmate of the Week – Lt. j.g. Allison Murray

Posted by LT Stephanie Young, Friday, March 28, 2014

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray with the aircrew she worked with to rescue a man on a commercial flight. Photo courtesy of Lt. j.g. Allison Murray.

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray with the aircrew she worked with to rescue a man on a commercial flight. Photo courtesy of Lt. j.g. Allison Murray.

As executive officer of a patrol boat operating throughout U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, Lt. j.g. Allison Murray was all set for some “R&R.” Murray was headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and was excited to travel and gain new experiences.

Her flight to Sri Lanka was mostly uneventful as Murray tried her best to doze off. That all changed during the final descent. Just as the flight attendants were asking passengers to lock their seats into the upright position and buckle their seat belts, she noticed a commotion ahead of her in row six. A man unbuckled his seat belt and shifted forward to an empty seat ahead of him, looking behind him worryingly.

“At that point, the first thing I noticed was the familiar scent of sour acid,” said Murray. “I looked over to row six to see vomit completely covering the man’s mouth, shirt, seat and floor in front of him. He was moaning, shaking uncontrollably and swaying back and forth.”

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray aboard her patrol boat off the coast of Bahrain. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray aboard her patrol boat off the coast of Bahrain. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Recognizing this wasn’t just a case of motion sickness, nearby passengers all rang their bell for the flight attendant.

“One flight attendant came back immediately, assessed the situation and started asking him where the pain was while unbuttoning his shirt,” said Murray.

The aircrew grabbed an emergency oxygen bottle and mask and placed it over the man’s face. There was an Indian doctor aboard who also joined the aircrew. Murray noticed that as the doctor started performing chest compressions, the passenger was still in his seat; the seat drove sharply back with each compression. Murray shouted out, “We need to put him on the floor!”

Now positioned in the aisle, the doctor asked if anyone knew CPR. Murray said she did and immediately jumped in, conducting chest compressions.

At this point the plane had landed and was on the tarmac. The aircrew had called an ambulance but Murray recalls it felt, “like it was taking forever to reach our plane.”

After twenty minutes of chest compressions, a medic arrived and Murray helped move the man from the aircraft to an airlift vehicle. It was then that the medics took over, and Murray returned to the airplane to gather her belongings, shaken from the experience.

“Sweating and flustered from the excitement of the previous 45 minutes, I moved through customs trying to internally process the experience.”

Later that day Murray shared the experience with her dad, a doctor, and her mom, a nurse. Her mother relayed that in all her years of nursing, including several years in an intensive care unit, she never had to perform CPR. Her father said he was “incredibly proud” regardless of the outcome.

Murray went on to experience the rich history and culture of Sri Lanka but after receiving no closure from the experience, wondered about the fate of the passenger and if she had done everything right. Coincidentally, just three weeks before her trip, she had taken a refresher CPR course.

“I had accepted that we had done everything that we could have done at the time to try and save him,” said Murray.

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray is part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard's largest unit outside of the United States.

Lt. j.g. Allison Murray is part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States.

Still, as she boarded the airplane for her return flight, she felt an unusual anxiety. The anxiety was broken by a male flight attendant who pressed his hands together while bowing and saying, “Ayubowan” – may you live long and healthy. The flight attendant recognized Murray as “the girl that gave CPR a few weeks earlier” and informed her that the passenger had lived.

Murray recalls being “overjoyed” and for the duration of the flight had a permanent smile of relief and joy stretched across her face. Each of the aircrew, including the pilots, also thanked Murray for her tremendous help and cited how the event showcased a truly humanitarian effort.

“As I look back on this experience, I am still floored by the fact that he had survived,” said Murray. “Never in my wildest imagination did I expect this, nor did I know that I could handle an incredibly stressful, life-threatening situation with calmness and steady persistence. For whatever reason, I was placed in exactly the right place – right seat – at the right time.”

- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2014/03/shipmate-of-the-week-lt-j-g-allison-murray/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCoastGuardCompass+%28The+Coast+Guard+Compass%29#sthash.v7nx0DH9.dpuf

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