Andrea Beseris wasn’t expecting to take part in a hair-raising medical rescue thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean.
But that’s just what the newly fledged St. Luke’s nurse, the only medical professional on a Seattle-bound plane, ended up doing to conclude an already memorable Hawaii vacation.
Beseris, a 24-year-old bedside nurse on the 6 East medical/surgical unit at St. Luke’s Boise location, was napping when the pilot came on to ask if there were any medical professionals aboard.
The recent Idaho State University nursing graduate, who has been at her first-ever job as a nurse with St. Luke’s for about six months, was the only clinician on the plane. She responded by pressing her overhead call button.
A male passenger from the Samoan Islands, who spoke very limited English, had been put on the plane with a medical problem. It’s not unusual for residents of Polynesia, Micronesia and other islands to travel to the mainland through Hawaii for care due to the limited access in the islands, many of which are U.S. territories and commonwealths.
But this patient was in unusually bad condition. He had weeping wounds and was severely dehydrated. Pale and sweaty, drifting in and out of consciousness, the man was clearly in physical distress. At least one dressing on his lower leg was hampering circulation.
The flight crew connected her with a physician on the mainland via headset. The two triaged the man and Beseris started in on what John McRae, one of her St. Luke’s supervisors, described as “some basic stuff” with the few supplies aboard.
The plane carried two needles; Beseris had never started an IV before and she was terrified. The dehydration had complicated the IV job because the man’s veins were diminished.
“She nailed it,” McRae said, getting the fluids going and then removing the soaked and soiled wound dressing. Beseris used towels and cloths to protect the wounds and a coat hanger to hang the fluids, and drafted another passenger to support the patient’s head. She stayed calm while around her, flight attendants scurried anxiously.
“She was kind of doing some frontier medicine since they didn’t have many supplies,” McRae said. “She was running the show.”
The passenger came to with the fluids. Beseris helped him for the approximately two and a half hours it took for the plane to get to Seattle and handed him off to the paramedics, who took him to a hospital. She got a $400 flight coupon from the airline and headed home to Boise.
St. Luke’s nursing leadership and Dr. David Pate, St. Luke’s Health System president and CEO, recently commended Beseris for her exemplary response and honored her with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
“I thought it was a neat story,” McRae said, “especially since she is a new nurse and possibly saved the passenger's life.”
Roya Camp works in the St. Luke’s Communications department.