Home > Magazine > ChaiTime > EMERGENCY WORK ON A FLIGHT



Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
March 2018

If you're a lawyer, you probably won't have to provide emergency assistance on a flight. Chances are, the pilot won't make an announcement like this: "Your attention, please. A passenger is in critical need of some legal advice. Is there a lawyer on-board?"

But what if you're a plumber? Will you need to offer your skills in mid-flight? That almost happened during a Norwegian Air flight from Oslo to Munich. The plane experienced "toilet problems" and had to return to Oslo. As it turned out, there were 70 plumbers from the Rorkjop company on the flight, including its chief executive, Frank Olsen.

“We’d have gladly fixed the toilets, but it must unfortunately be done from the outside, and we didn’t want to take a chance on sending out a plumber at 10,000 meters altitude,” Olsen told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

So plumbers, like most professionals, can relax on flights. But doctors can't get too comfortable. Just ask Dr. Sij Hemal, 27, a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute. Returning from India recently, he was watching a movie during the Paris-to-New York leg of his trip while awaiting a glass of champagne.

“I was pretty tired from jet lag,” he recalled. “I thought I’d just have a drink and fall asleep. As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t drink anything.”

That’s because a fellow passenger, 41-year-old Toyin Ogundipe, a banker from Nigeria, went into labor about midway into the flight and Hemal had to deliver her baby. Thankfully, he had help: Dr. Susan Shepherd, a pediatrician, happened to be sitting next to him. About 30 minutes later, Ogundipe gave birth to a baby boy.

“So much could have gone wrong, but it didn’t," Hemal said. "Being on that particular flight, sitting next to a pediatrician … it’s like it was destiny. Thanks to God, everything worked out.”

After returning to Cleveland, he received a delivery from Air France: a travel voucher and a bottle of champagne.

[The article above contains additional material not in the print and digital issues.]

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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