Right place, right time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tiffany M. Deuel
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
During a flight from London to Los Angeles on June 9, 2012, a 65-year-old British man passed out two hours before landing. Fortunately for him, Capt. William Chase, 56th Rescue Squadron flight commander, was on board and able to help.

"I followed a normal medical checklist," said Chase. "You localize it to what you think the signs and symptoms point you toward. I equate it to a math problem you are trying to solve."

After going over the man's history with his wife, piecing together what his recent history was and noting his symptoms, Chase was able to come up with a conclusion.

"His whole family had been sick the past week. He had drunk heavily all week. He hadn't had water all day. He is 65-years-old and in a pressurized cabin," said Chase. "I honestly think the man was just dehydrated."

Thinking back on the situation, Chase found it a bit surreal.

"It was like out of a movie," said Chase. "The pilot asked "Is there a doctor on board?"

Although Chase is not a doctor, his background of working with the Los Angeles Fire Department prior to joining the military combined with his combat rescue officer training qualified him to assist in the situation.

"I'm not at all surprised by Chase's actions aboard that flight," said Lt. Col. Bradley Dow, 56th RQS commander. "His actions are a testament to the professionalism and dedication displayed daily by the (his) career field."

When the call came, a few individuals went forward.

"Two nurses showed up but they didn't speak English," said Chase, so he was chosen to assist the gentleman.

In addition to caring for the elderly man, his actions also kept the pilot from having to divert the flight to a different location, which resulted in the airline awarding him 25,000 miles.

"The pilot said they could divert to some place in the middle of nowhere, but we were only two hours from our destination and I assured them that they didn't need to because the man wasn't bad off," said Chase.

Once they landed in California, they parted ways and went on to their own secondary destinations.

"We landed at our destination and did an emergency taxi," said Chase. "He was able to walk off on his own and that was the last I saw of him."

All in all, the man was lucky to have Chase aboard his flight.

"Whether it is providing life-saving care to a wounded soldier in Afghanistan, providing humanitarian relief in a disaster area or aiding a sick passenger on a airliner, it is CROs like Chase that exemplify our motto: 'That others may live'," said Dow.