Man helps woman in medical distress on United Airlines flight
A former emergency medical technician is being praised for his quick response in helping a woman experiencing multiple seizures while on board a United Airlines flight on Sunday.
Video filmed on United Airlines flight 3466 captured a passenger assisting a woman as she was having a seizure on the Sunday evening flight, with the woman’s head rapidly moving back and forth as she shook in her seat.
The passenger who helped was later identified as Anthony Marino, a former emergency medical technician from Phoenix, Ariz., who said he felt he was “in the right place at the right time.”
Marino was seated in front of the woman and told ABC-affiliate WCPO he spoke with her before the emergency.
As they were still ascending, Marino said he heard her gasping for air.
“I just heard the way she was breathing and I unbuckled my seatbelt and I just jumped right at her side,” he said. “I kneeled down and tried to keep her calm.”
The woman had been traveling with a young boy.
At one point, Marino said he gave the woman a “sternal rub,” a procedure in which a person applies painful stimuli with the knuckles of a closed fist to the centre of a person’s chest. The procedure is used when a person is not alert and not responding to verbal stimuli, according to EMS1.com.
“I rubbed the skin off my finger, that’s how long I was doing it, and how hard, so I hope she forgives me for that. I’m sure she’s feeling that today,” Marino said.
Many passengers praised the move by Marino, but did question why the plane did not land when the incident occurred.
Amy Hammond, who sat two rows behind the woman, said she felt “mortified” as it unfolded in front of her.
She was angry that no one landed the plane at that time and wants to speak to airline officials.
“She was just passing out. And they would try to get that oxygen on her, and bring her back, and then it was just the same cyclical passing out,” she told Fox-affiliate WXIX.
“It should never happen again.”
Charlie Hobart, a United Airlines spokesperson, told Global News that the decision to continue the flight was made after several consultations with medical personnel on board, its on-call medical service on the ground, and with the customer who was experiencing the seizures.
“Had it been the judgment of the medical professionals that another course of action was needed, we would have followed that recommendation immediately as well,” he said in a phone interview.
Marino told WCPO that he agreed with the decision to keep flying, saying they could not have been certain a medical facility where they landed would have the appropriate requirements, such as a stroke or trauma hospital.
He added that the response by the flight’s crew was “phenomenal” with one attendant getting the woman oxygen and the attention of other medical professionals on the flight.
Hobart said the airline has reached out to the woman who experienced the emergency but has not heard back, while adding the airline is grateful how Marino and other people on board responded to the woman’s needs.
Asked about passengers’ reactions on why the flight did not land when the emergency happened, he said medical recommendations by experts are what they follow.
“We can understand how it would look traumatic when you see it through the lens of a cell phone or even if you are on site,” he said. “But it needs to be understood that during this event we rely on the expertise of medical professionals … and we’re going to go by what they judge to be in the best interest of the customer.”
According to Hobart, the passenger was taken from the plane by paramedics and transported to hospital. At this time, the airline has been unable to confirm how the customer is doing.
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