ER doctor leaps into action when former sheriff has stroke - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

ER doctor leaps into action when former sheriff suffers in-flight emergency

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Bob Boydston was headed west to wine country with his family on a long-planned trip.

After two lengthy stints as Clay County sheriff, Boydston was enjoying being retired and looking forward to the trip as the Southwest Airlines jet cruised west.

Then about 30 minutes into the April flight, he fell ill and reached for air sickness bag in his seat pocket in front of him.

"I then leaned over and that's all I remember," Boydston recalled.

Doctors believe he may have been suffering a stroke.

He is alive thanks to heroics from the crew and a group of doctors on board the flight.

Denise Miller, an emergency room doctor at Menorah Medical Center, and five other ER doctors were headed to a seminar in Las Vegas.

As Boydston collapsed, the flight crew sprang into action and over the intercom asked for any medical professionals to help out.

"It's happened before and it's usually someone hyperventilating or vomiting," Miller said.

The doctors began to eye each other as to see who would respond. And then a second announcement was made and desperation colored the flight attendant's voice.

"You could tell there was really something going on," she said. "That's when I stood up and said, 'Can I help?'"

Miller and another doctor found Boydston in dire shape.

"Bob was unconscious. He was in a cold sweat. His lips were blue. He wouldn't respond at all," she recalled. "We just kicked into work mode."

Miller, the second doctor and the flight attendant got Boydston on the floor. They checked his airway and got him oxygen.

They did what they could and then had an order for the pilot.

"I'm an ER doctor. This man is having a stroke. We cannot go to Phoenix. We have to get down," she said. "We have to divert."

Miller supported him and kept talking to Boydston for the rest of the flight.

The pilot made an emergency landing in Denver where Boydston was whisked to one of the best hospitals in the country for treating strokes.

Two months later, Boydston is doing better. Doctors say he has suffered seizures, but haven't been able to verify that he suffered a stroke. And in deep gratitude, he came together again last week with Miller to thank her for being the right doctor in the right place at the right time so he can plan more family trips.

"You brought me back to life," he told her.

"Just you being well and enjoying your grand kids, that's my reward," she told him.

The two laughed and joked, and even shared a deep embrace. Miller reminded Boydston that she jokingly had told him after they landed that she didn't have a Colorado medical license but that the air was still from Kansas so she hoped they were good from a liability standpoint.

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