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Freedom Wing Airmen take charge during medical emergency on international flight

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Monica Ricci
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

Two Freedom Wing Airmen were lauded by the wing commander for their heroic efforts on their recent flight home from a deployment to Kuwait.

Maj. Jonathan Trager, 514th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, and Master Sgt. Khary Hunt, 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, boarded a Lufthansa flight in Frankfurt on the last leg of their trip home, expecting to sleep and relax now that their mission was complete.

Mid-flight, however, a fellow passenger experienced an acute medical emergency. Without hesitation, the two sprung into action. 

“The flight attendants spoke German, so when they made the initial announcement, I didn’t hear it,” Trager recounted. “But then a woman spoke up and said, ‘You should announce it in English because I know a doctor on the plane who is American.’ I had been joking around with another passenger before we got on the plane and mentioned that I was a doctor.”

Trager serves as an emergency medicine physician in his civilian career, while Hunt is a paramedic with the Philadelphia Fire Department. They had just spent a deployment working together in the 379th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, where Hunt worked as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician and Trager was the physician on a Critical Care Air Transport Team.

“He [Hunt] is fantastic,” Trager said. “We had a close bond already from the deployment and our shared experiences as paramedics, so when people of that sort of familiarity work together, it’s automatic. He immediately suggested low blood sugar as a possible cause of the illness, and we treated him for that as well as dehydration. It takes everyone involved thinking critically at that moment.”

The Airmen worked together to treat the man with a nurse passenger from France and a flight crew that Trager said was flawless in their response to the mid-flight emergency. He added that the pilots also took the time to check in with them throughout and after their response. 

“The plane had an incredible medical kit and the flight attendants and crew were phenomenal,” Trager said. “They were young, in their 20s, and to have that level of responsibility, it’s extraordinary. One of the flight attendants stood by with a notebook, jotting down vital signs and keeping track of everything we were doing. Others were keeping track of equipment used and gathering additional supplies as needed. Incredible teamwork and support!”

The German passenger they cared for was able to recover the rest of the flight knowing he was in good hands.

“To me, he’s a friend,” Trager said. “We still keep in touch over text. We’re connected now!”

Col. Christopher Holland, 514th AMW commander, publicly recognized the two Airmen during the December UTA for their role in stabilizing the passenger and ensuring he made it to his destination safely.

“That’s one thing I love about the military,” Trager said. “We always promote and support each other. We obviously don’t do it for the recognition, but it’s heartening to know we are valued for our skillsets and things we are passionate about.”