Sailor provides emergency medical assistance at 37,000 feet

Published on CMDR Sean Noble (author), Unknown (photographer)

Petty Officer Medic Tex Cowie checks a patient onboard HMAS Perth. (photo: Unknown)
Petty Officer Medic Tex Cowie checks a patient onboard HMAS Perth.

Petty Officer Medic Tex Cowie recently provided medical assistance to a distressed airline passenger while in the air, on the way from Perth to Darwin. Petty Officer Cowie, HMAS Perth’s Clinical Manager, was returning to the ship after a reunion trip home. Perth was alongside Darwin for a short port visit.

During the flight, the passenger became distressed and required immediate respiratory assistance. The flight stewards quickly realised that something was wrong and announced an emergency call for a medical doctor. In the absence of a doctor on board the aircraft, Petty Officer Cowie told the airline staff that he was able to provide assistance.

“I saw the flight stewards move the passenger into the front of the plane, where there was more room. The passenger was already receiving oxygen. It was obvious that there was not a doctor present, so I volunteered to help,” Petty Officer Cowie said.

“It was the right thing to do. I knew I could help them out.”

“The passenger was upset and distressed; she had a lot of medical concerns with a history of medical ailments. I was able to calm the situation and control the scene. The flight had an emergency physician’s kit onboard that contained a lot of equipment that we could use to stabilise the patient.”

“At 37,000 feet, the best thing to do was to settle the situation and ride the plane into Darwin where there would be tertiary medical support,” he said.

Throughout the situation, Petty Officer Cowie continued to relay vital medical information through to the aircrew so that they could alert the ambulance and medical team waiting in Darwin.

When it was all over, Petty Officer Cowie was asked why he stood up and helped. He replied quite humbly: “I am in the Navy, that’s what we do.”