A Delta passenger died on board a flight Saturday after an alleged drug overdose. An overdose reversal drug could have saved the man — but apparently wasn’t stocked on the flight.
Lynne Lyman — a passenger aboard Delta flight 2531 from Boston to LAX —told Yahoo! Lifestyle that the man wasn’t discovered until the cabin crew’s landing preparations. When they opened a lavatory door, they found the unresponsive passenger.
“They were doing everything they could. CPR, shock compressions, those shock things,” she recounts. “There were a number of children on board who were looking. I was trying to pull my child from looking.”
Lyman says that a woman, who was either a doctor or nurse, went to help and called out, “What we need is Narcan, and there’s no Narcan.”
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded when the plane landed at LAX — and purportedly zipped the man up in a body bag with passengers still on the plane.
What is NARCAN?
NARCAN is a brand of Naloxone: a drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioids. The product has received plenty of attention in the past few years during the nation’s opioid epidemic.
A firefighter/EMT friend told me some overdose patients don’t want NARCAN administered — because a patient’s reaction to the drug is legally admissible in court proceedings. (NARCAN apparently only affects people who are in opioid-induced emergencies. It purportedly has no effect on people not under an opioid influence.)
Flight Attendants Union Wants NARCAN Onboard
“Passenger medical emergencies have and will continue to include opioid overdoses,” the Association of Flight Attendants wrote in a letter to the FAA. “Naloxone is not a standard on-board medication in commercial aviation, which renders individuals at a higher risk of death by overdose in the air than on the ground.”
Delta Claims To Already Have NARCAN On Flights – Or Do They?
A Delta spokesperson told Fox News that the airline “earlier this year made the decision to improve our on board emergency medical kits by adding Narcan. The process to outfit medical kits will begin this fall.”
But that contradicts what the airline said last year.
EMS World reported — after another onboard overdose — a Delta spokesperson said the carrier starting added NARCAN to its onboard first aid kits in fall 2018. The spokesperson said Delta would stock the drug “in earnest” before the end of 2018. (We don’t know if the spokesperson mentioned in both pieces is the same person.)
So do some Delta flights have NARCAN? Or do none of them stock it?
The opioid epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. Flight attendants now find themselves having to serve as paramedics, too. It’s unfortunate that airlines — or anyone — find themselves in this position and have to stock NARCAN. Some may think people could put away their drugs for a flight — but that’s not how addiction works.
Stories like this prove the opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate as to whom it affects — or where.
What Do You Think?
Does this shock you as much as it does me? How much longer will untreated overdoses occur on flights?
Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below — Chris