BILOXI, Miss. – A Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center registered nurse (RN) provided emergency medical assistance to a traveler on a routine Delta Air Lines flight from Pensacola, Florida, to Miami Aug. 15.
Jovied Caliz-Diaz, a native of Puerto Rico and three-year Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) employee, responded to an inquiry from Delta Air Lines flight attendants inquiring if individuals with medical training were aboard the flight. Caliz-Diaz responded, identifying himself as an RN and volunteering to provide assistance.
“I provided assistance because I have had the privilege of receiving medical training which makes me qualified and capable of assisting during any medical emergency,” he said. “Whether on duty or not, medical professionals are there to provide assistance, and this opportunity to intervene was something I know any of my fellow nurses would have done.”
According to Caliz-Diaz, before the flight departed a young woman exhibited symptoms of dizziness and nausea, prompting the cabin-wide announcement from the Delta Air Lines crew. After volunteering to provide aid, Caliz-Diaz assessed the individual’s vital signs, taking her pulse and requesting a glucometer from the flight attendants. While noticing the patient was having difficulty talking and was pale, anxious and sweating, he also performed a quick neurological assessment, telling the young woman to follow his finger with her eyes as well as checking her extremities for strength, symmetry and coordination.
Caliz-Diaz remained with the individual, asking relevant medical history questions, and eventually observed her skin color return to a more normal shade and her speech was improved. The individual was able to relay to Caliz-Diaz that she had previously suffered from anxiety episodes but had no blood glucose issues.
“Caliz-Diaz’ actions during what could have been a serious event are at the core of what our profession is about,” said Dr. M. Christopher Salso, the GCVHCS Associate Director Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive. “Being a registered nurse involves being able to respond to any eventuality, and Caliz-Diaz’ dedication not only aboard this flight but as a member of the GCVHCS Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team embodies what the GCVHCS expects from its nursing staff.”
Caliz-Diaz received a letter of appreciation for his actions as well as a travel credit voucher for his next Delta Air Lines experience.
“It was fortunate to have you on board with us, and we are thankful for the assistance you provided,” the letter reads. “Volunteers like yourself expand our inflight response capability and help us do our best for a passenger in distress.”
Caliz-Diaz is one of more than 2,600 employees within the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System (GCVHCS) which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 77,000 Veterans and other beneficiaries at five locations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.