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Discussion Guide

SHOCKED: Life and Death at 35,000 Feet

By Dr. David K. McKenas MD MPH

Shocked is a true story of how a complex medical device known as a defibrillator was placed on American Airlines airplanes in 1996 to save people from the lethal, unpredictable condition of sudden cardiac arrest. The book tells how Congress then made it a law for all U.S. aircraft following this successful experiment of placing them into the hands of non-medical people, flight attendants.   It discusses the spread of the devices everywhere after this stunning program, and the countless lives saved as a result. 


The book also examines closely the very first use of the device to save the life of a man, Robert Giggey  25 years ago, who is still alive today, and the miraculous change in a flight attendant’s life involved in the first rescue.   There is a long flashback of  how the device used to save the first Mr. Giggey’s device got onto his airplane just two days prior to the flight to Mexico.   It has a heavy memoir portion from Dr. Dave McKenas, the corporate medical director for American Airlines, who also explains the esoteric field of aerospace and space medicine.

This discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with Dartfrog Books.


Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

How could a near suicidal flight attendant in 1998 regain her will to live by participating in saving Mr. Giggey's life? What was the voice that she heard?

The defibrillator that saved Mr. Giggey's life was placed on board just two days prior to the flight.  How do you explain this coincidence? Do you have odd coincidences in your life you cannot explain?

The author describes repetitive dreams of his father's death the day after Good Friday, which came true. How do you explain this? Has it happened to you?