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McAllen Firefighters Save Man’s Life on Plane

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MCALLEN – A mid-air scare, an unplanned stop and a group of Rio Grande Valley heroes doing what they do best: saving lives.

Some firefighters were able to make a difference all by being in the right place at the right time.

The McAllen firefighters got comfortable for a routine three-hour flight. But they didn’t expect a medical emergency. When it happened – it showed just how challenging things can be up in the air.

On Friday, on the way back from a training workshop on an Allegiant flight out of Las Vegas, firefighter Leo Mendoza says he noticed the stewardess bringing a passenger something unusual.

“It’s not common for someone to just reach for an oxygen bottle,” he says.

He says an elderly man was having discomfort.

“They asked if anybody had any medical training,” Mendoza tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Mendoza says the man was in cardiac arrest. He and the group jumped into action.

“We took turns resuscitating the patient,” he explains.

Mendoza says 20 to 30 minutes later, they were back on the ground for an unplanned stop.

“We made contact with El Paso firefighters,” he says.

Upon landing, firefighters boarded and got the man off the aircraft.

“Basically, all we did was CPR, provide oxygen and breathing for the patient,” he says.

Mendoza says he was told the man’s heart started beating again.

“You have limited resources, you have limited room to do anything, even to work on a patient,” he tells us.

He says although not everyone can be a firefighter, anyone can prepare for this kind of situation.

“Anyone who’s willing to take a CPR class, and actually wants to help their fellow citizen, it would make a big impact,” he says.

Mendoza says Allegiant staff also assisted by getting on the line with a medical professional and helping get the assistance they needed. 

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