Hero Paramedics Save Man Whose Heart Stopped on Flight to Houston

They happened to be on their way to a FEMA conference.

ByABC News
January 24, 2015, 8:06 AM

— -- Two paramedics on a flight from Southern California to Houston saved the life of a fellow passenger whose heart had stopped beating.

Donovan George and Alex Van swung into action on Friday when the Florida man in his 70s collapsed on the flight out of John Wayne Airport. The Orange County paramedics happened to be on board United Flight 333 with their canines for a search-and-rescue conference being held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The man was en route home via Houston when he stood up and felt light-headed and dizzy.

"He was really pale in color and he was sweating profusely," said Van. "I started noticing that he's not breathing, he does not have a pulse. I immediately started CPR ."

Van and George hooked the man up to an IV and an auto-external defibrillator provided by the flight crew.

The plane was diverted to Phoenix, where the man was taken to a hospital. He was alert and talking, said the paramedics.

"It doesn't matter if you're 30,000 feet up in the air or on the side of a freeway or in someone's home, our skill set allows us to help people in need when they need it," said George.

"This is not a career. It's a way of life," said Van. "Wherever you go, you will have to respond."

Orange County Fire Authority paramedics Alex Van, right, and Donovan George, left, treated a passenger while on board their flight from Orange County, California, to Houston on Jan. 23, 2015.