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Off duty paramedic saves choking passenger 35,000ft over Atlantic Ocean

Paramedics are poised to deal with any emergency – however 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean is the last place you might expect to have to spring into action.

That’s what happened to Jason Williams from the Welsh Ambulance Service, who was on a plane to Cuba with his family when a fellow passenger began to choke.

The Community First Responder Officer made himself known to the cabin crew, and his quick-thinking actions meant the woman regained consciousness just moments before the pilot was to divert to make an emergency landing.

Jason, of Ewloe, Flintshire, said: “We were a couple of hours into the flight when one of the flight attendants went past our row with a first aid kit, and that’s when I noticed a commotion a couple of rows down.

“I went and introduced myself, explained that I was a paramedic and then took my seat again. A few moments later, I was asked to help.

“Straight away I identified that the woman was not breathing, and with the help of her husband and the cabin crew, lay her down in the aisle where I managed to clear her airway.

“I gave her some oxygen and monitored her vitals using the kit we had available. Eventually, she regained consciousness.”

Jason, who is based in St Asaph, Denbighshire, was Clinical Operations Manager at the Wales Air Ambulance for four years before he took up post as First Responder Officer, and said the patient and her husband were grateful for his intervention.

He said: “Thankfully the patient, who had a history of faints, made a full recovery and continued her journey to her holiday, albeit she was very embarrassed about what had just unfolded.

“Prior to me stepping in, the pilot had started to plan an emergency landing at the nearest airport which would have been John F Kennedy in New York.

“I’m just glad I could be of help.”

Tour Operators Thomas Cook have since written to Jason by way of thank you.

Chief Executive Christoph Debus wrote: “The medical assistance you provided to our customer was crucial and we are very grateful for your expertise.

“I am sure the person involved and their family are really thankful for your support and kindness in this difficult situation.”

Jon Sweet, the Trust’s Area Operations Manager in North Wales, and Jason’s manager, added: “This is another great example of a member of the WAST team quite literally going above and beyond in delivering excellent patient care.

“Jason thoroughly deserves our grateful thanks and those of the patient and airline. The team now look forward to hearing about his next holiday adventures.”

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