Who says that flying a plane is not at all like caring for patients? I had the opportunity to talk w/ Dr. Richard Karl (retired Chair Dept Surgery USF Tampa; founding medical director of Moffitt Cancer Center; author of the book Across the Red Line: Stories from the Surgical Life) yesterday. I specifically wanted to speak with him about the response of Captain Sullenberger and copilot Jeff Skiles on January 15 2009 when all engines died after US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of geese and was rapidly losing altitude. In less than three minutes, the Captain and copilot ran thru their checklists, assessed their situation and determined that the advice they received from a very shaken control tower to land at an airfield was useless. Less than 180 seconds was all they had to work as a team together and decide what option was likely to save them all. If that is not like the many similar situations I have seen in the hospital, I do not know what is. Dr. Karl is a great mentor and I hope to speak with him more on this topic.
Kenneth A. Lipshy, MD, FACS