On September 23 a passenger in his late 30s had an epileptic seizure on Air China flight CA1478 from Kashgar — the westernmost city in China near the border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — to Urumqi in Northwest China.
The passenger lost consciousness and was foaming at the mouth.
Flight crew made an announcement looking for any doctor that might be onboard. Tian Yu, a 38 year old from the Department of Rheumatology at Shanghai’s Longhua Hospital, responded. Doing his best Macguyver impersonation, he asked crew for a towel and a spoon. (Or is it Ford Prefect?)
He used the spoon, asked for toothpicks, and went to work with acupuncture:
Then he wrapped the spoon with the towel and put it in the patient’s mouth to stop him from biting his own tongue.
In order to prevent the patient from suffering continuous seizure, Tian asked the cabin crew to give him a few toothpicks.
With the pointy sticks, he managed to bring the patient around by stimulating several acupuncture points, including the baihui aperture and sishengcong aperture on top of the head.
Air China A320, Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo
Toothpicks were used in lieu of needles which weren’t onboard. He used the ‘toothpicks to apply pressure to key acupuncture points, including the baihui aperture and sishencong aperture, around the patient’s head in an attempt to “activate the brain”’.
The passenger regained consciousness after 5 minutes, the plane landed in Urumqi, and parademics met the aircraft. Of course he might have regained consciousness without the acupuncture.
Regardless, when you have limited tools to work with, you do the best you can — like the flight attendants who took down an upgraded passenger with an ice pick and a coffee pot.