Dispatch #35: Affability, Availability & Ability


On the last leg of my flight from Brazil I was two and a half hours in the air  from SFO when a medical urgency occurred on the plane.  A fellow with an oxygen apparatus walked up to the front galley near the 9th row where I was sitting.  He disappeared into the galley to seek assistance with his rapidly diminishing oxygen.   A few minutes later the flight attendant made a calm appeal on the public address system she said, “If there is a medical doctor or medical professional on board please come to the front of the plane a passenger needs assistance.  The gentleman sitting next to me in the center seat in one swift motion unclicked his seat belt, stood up and said, “That’s me, I’m a doctor.”Just as he stepped into the aisle a woman a couple of rows behind us stood up and started walking to the front identiying herself as a doctor too.  As I attempted to get out of their way FOUR other gentlemen came rushing up the aisle identifying themselves as doctors!

All of the doctors consulted with each other but my row mate took charge in that moment and throughout the remainder of the flight.  The flight attendant brought out an oxygen tank and mask and gave it to the doctor.  Once the man’s oygen flow and vital stats were stabilized my row mate returned to his seat next to me.  I commented that it was fortunate for the fellow to have not only one but at least a half dozen doctors on one flight.  Well, it turns out at least a quarter of the passengers were doctors travelling to San Francisco for a medical conference as part of their continuing education requirement!

For the remainder of the flight I got the opportunity to learn more about Dr. Kenny and was very glad to meet this man.  During the course of our conversation I learned that he lived with his wife and two daughters in a rural area of NY.  He said he is politically progressive, he is  an avid sailor  and enjoys traveling.  We discussed the cholera outbreak in Haiti and the challenges of economically poor people thoughout the world in trying to obtain basic healthcare. He told me that when he was a medical student his professors instilled in his class three qualities that good doctos should possess: Affability, Availability & Ability.  He struck me as being authetically compassionate and caring.

I commented to him that he must NOT be a HMO physican!


Dear Continental Airlines,

I am writing to commend the noble actions of a passenger and the exemplary professionalism of a flight attendant during a medical urgency aboard CO flight number 30…I urge you to recognize my fellow passenger, Dr. Kenny with an upgrade to first class upon his next CO flight and to issue a letter of commendation for the flight attendants’ personnel file.


Star Alliance Premier Executive Member


2 Responses to “Dispatch #35: Affability, Availability & Ability”

  1. donna rose Says:

    hey sista skye! yr travels read like a novela:-) but interesting too that the docs aboard didn’t hesitate to act….contrary to the thinking of many…there are some compassionate hmo docs out tehre…again, the climate is just crazy and seems to bring the crazy out in all of us….sad to say….my neice just got back from sao paolo and i’m looking forward to hearing her impressions as well as the obvious observations…be well and lotsa light!!!!!

  2. UPDATE 11.15.10
    I recieved a message from a Continental Airlines representative acknowledging receipt of my letter. Furthermore, an incident report was recieved by Continental Airlines verifying the event in my letter. A thank you letter was sent to Dr. Kenny and an offer of compensation for his kind assistance. A letter of commentation will be placed in the flight attendants’ personnel file.

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