Mid-air scare: vet rescues radio DJ


A Queenstown vet treated a well-known human during a recent mid-air medical scare.

Broadcaster Jason Gunn was flying back to Christchurch from his Queenstown holiday home when he passed out after overdosing on medication.

Locally-based Ngaire Dixon was returning to Christchurch, where she specialises in emergency veterinary work.

Dixon says Gunn, who’d previously suffered a heart attack, started having his episode about 10 minutes into the flight.

“He came around about five minutes before we landed so it would have been 20 minutes he was quite critical for.

“He was pretty sick but we managed to get him through it – there were a lot of sick bags passed backwards and forwards.”

She adds: “We put the ECG, which is the heart monitor, on him and took some heart readings.

“His heart was reading normally but his blood pressure was really low, so we gave him some oxygen – it kept him conscious, because he was drifting in and out of consciousness at that stage.”

Dixon’s used to dealing with animals that have overdosed or are having heart problems – “it is quite similar [to humans].”

But Gunn was easier to treat, she says: “Look, he didn’t bite or scratch me like a lot of my other patients do.”

When it comes to a vet treating a human, she says “one of the things that we can be really reassured about is that there’s not a lot of difference between the species”.

Dixon praises the professionalism of Air NZ’s flight attendants for keeping other passengers calm.

Another passenger, who was a nurse, was also amazing, she adds.

She says airline staff got Gunn off the plane pretty quickly to a waiting ambulance.

Dixon says Gunn’s been extremely grateful.

“He said, ‘you know, I’m quite grateful because they do shoot horses’.”

Gunn’s also publicly praised his animal doctor on radio station More FM.

Despite spending a night in hospital, he says he’s fine and has learned a lesson about the perils of overdosing on medication.

Meanwhile, Gunn was also in the wars in Queenstown early last year, breaking two vertebrae after tumbling out of a wheelie bin near his holiday home.