Nursing Student Helps Save Flight Attendant

A WestConn student jumped into action after a plane hit severe turbulence.

By Jeff Saperstone
|  Friday, Jun 15, 2012  |  Updated 8:01 AM EDT
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WestConn nursing student jumps into action to help save a flight attendant after plane hits severe turbulence.

Jeff Saperstone & Thomas Kienzler

WestConn nursing student jumps into action to help save a flight attendant after plane hits severe turbulence.

A 23-year-old nursing student from Western Connecticut State University used her skills and jumped into action to help save a flight attendant after she was seriously injured during severe turbulence.

Olivia D'Avanzo, of New Fairfield, was on United Airlines flight 1632 from Houston, Texas to LaGuardia Airport in New York when it was forced to make an emergency landing on Tuesday after the plane hit an air pocket and dropped.

The terrifying jolt happened 30 minutes in, when flight attendants began serving drinks, and they flew up hit the ceiling and then the floor.

"The stewardess started screaming, 'Help, help, is there a doctor onboard?'" D'Avanzo recounted.

There were no doctors onboard, but there was an EMT. The EMT and and D'Avanzo immediately volunteered to help.

"I ran to the back of the plane where the stewardess was lying flat on her back and screaming," D'Avanzo said. "She was screaming, I'm going to die."

D'Avanzo said the flight attendant couldn't breathe because she had injured her ribs.

"She couldn't move her legs at all either, so I got oxygen for her and I stabilized her neck, made it immobile in alignment," D'Avanzo said.

The plane made an emergency landing in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the injured crew and passengers were taken off the plane.

"If we had been in the air any longer, her condition probably would have worsened," D'Avanzo said.

D'Avanzo said she remained calm and would not have been able to do what she did without the training she received at WestConn.

When she got off the plane, the pilot and crew personally thanked her.

"I don't feel like a hero, but it feels very good to help somebody who needed it," D'Avanzo said.

The pilot told D'Avanzo that in his 30 years of flying, he'd never experienced turbulence that severe.

As of Thursday, one flight attendant remained in serious but stable condition.
 

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