[US to Sri Lanka and Nepal 2012] Kyle Hybl on the “Flight to Dubai Incident”
This post brought to you by Kyle Hybl, delegate in our current Sri Lanka/Nepal program. As always, his views are his alone.
Just over one week ago today, seven young political leaders gathered under the auspices of the American Council of Young Political Leaders to travel to and explore the political and social systems of Sri Lanka and Nepal.
In six days on the ground in Sri Lanka we criss-crossed the beautiful and sometimes destitute island of Sri Lanka meeting with, talking with and eating with provincial leaders, members of parliament, NGO leaders and others. Their hospitality was always warm. Their struggle with continued reconciliation and economic development for the benefit of all Sri Lankans, whether in the Tamil dominated North or Senegalese saturated South was always sincere and earnest. We, as a delegation, learned much.
What I did not expect, but what ACYPL already knew from its 46 years in sending bipartisan delegations abroad, is our examination of their system encouraged (even required) exploration of our own system. As we traversed the country, our delegation of passionate and convicted Republicans, Democrats and Independents engaged in conversations large and small. Partisan rhetoric would make way for policy discussions and, often, an examination of our significant and shared values. Exploring our common aspirations for our communities and country, our 14-passenger think tank would rumble down dirt roads and newly paved highways discovering more about Sri Lanka and the United States. Our think tank has explored many solutions to our common problems—a few of which may even find life someday outside the safety and confines of that rolling idea incubator.
We now travel to Nepal. Conversations continue. But, today this ACYPL delegation accomplished more than a deeper understanding in the hope for a better future for both the United States and Sri Lanka—today a member of our delegation secured a future for another human soul.
It was Fly Dubai Flight 556 from Colombo to Dubai, a flight for which we arrived at the airport at 2:00 am. As I dozed in and out of sleep on the plane I was roused by a stewardess’ voice over the intercom. She asked for a “doctor, nurse or paramedic.” Ten rows behind me a Sri Lankan woman had collapsed on the passenger next to her and was in serious trouble—a trouble I knew only because of the eyes of the calm and collected stewardess as she asked for medical help. Heads turned to see what the commotion was, but no medical person stepped forward.
When there was not a medical response, a member of our ACYPL delegation stepped forward because, as he later told me, “I used to be on ski patrol.” It was a tense hour on the flight. A time when the flight attendants were looking to The Honorable Adam “Howie” Howard of the Vermont House of Representatives for his steady and pragmatic leadership. In that hour he was faced with many questions. The plane’s captain asked whether he should divert the plane to Karachi to which Howard said emphatically yes. He had to explore what was wrong with the person and what medicine from the onboard trauma kit should be used and whether or not to prepare the AED for use. By the time our plane made an emergency landing in Dubai Rep. Howard’s “patient” had regained consciousness (perhaps due to his having administered glucosamine) and was taken off the plane by medical personnel.
Today, thanks to the actions of one delegate from the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a woman will be able to witness the future and progress of Sri Lanka.