The "hero" passenger who helped a woman suffering from seizures on a flight to Cincinnati tells WCPO that he was in the right place at the right time.
Anthony Marino is a Phoenix resident and former Black Canyon firefighter. He's now a sales specialist with Cintas First Aid and Safety, and he just happened to board the right flight while traveling for a business trip.
Marino said he had been chatting with the passenger before her medical emergency on United flight 3466 Sunday. He was seated just in front of her.
"All of a sudden I heard her gasping for air and I didn't - I just heard the way she was breathing and I unbuckled my seatbelt and I just kind of jumped right at her side," Marino said. "I kneeled down and tried to keep her calm."
Marino said the woman had about 25 seizures during the flight from Houston to Cincinnati. Some passengers on board who witnessed the ordeal asked why the pilot didn't land the plane - one passenger posting video of Marino helping the seizing woman on Facebook. The video has been shared hundreds of times. His wife, Molly, tells ABC15 her family is proud of him.
"I told our 4-year-old last night, daddy's a superhero and she said, 'I know'," she said.
Understanding the panic of other passengers on board, Marino agreed that staying in the air was the right thing to do.
"At the end of the day if we would have dropped the plane wherever in America we were at … who's to say that we had a facility that - a specific facility for that - whether it be a stroke hospital or a trauma one hospital," he said.
According to Marino, the flight attendant's response was "phenomenal." The attendant assisted in getting the woman oxygen and getting the attention of other medical professionals on the flight.
"We had doctors on board, United Airlines was on the phone with their medical directors, doctors," Marino said.
Based on the woman's vitals, the doctors agreed to continue on to Cincinnati.
"They had come to the decision based on our patient and where she was with her respirations and her alert and oriented structure," Marino explained, "and they said, 'If we keep her at this I'm okay with continuing flight. Let's just monitor, let's continue oxygen delivery and kind of go from there.'"
That doesn't mean there weren't moments of doubt. Marino said the woman would be unresponsive for about five seconds at a time.
"I looked at the doctor and I said, 'If she doesn't wake up in the next five seconds, get ready. We're gonna put her in the aisle and we're gonna land this bird. And we're gonna start compressions,'" he said.
The patient also had a young boy with her who Marino placed in the care of his colleague for the remainder of the flight.
"The right people were on the plane. Everybody - it was like a symphony. Everything just worked perfect other than obviously, I just wish we were closer," he said.
Once the plane landed at CVG, paramedics removed the woman. Marino tried to reach the woman through a local hospital but hasn't heard back.
Jon Austin, a spokesman for Republic Airlines, provided WCPO with the following statement:
"This weekend, a customer experienced a medical issue aboard Republic Airlines flight 3466 operating as United Express between Houston and Cincinnati. While in flight, the customer received care by our crew with guidance from our on-call medical service as well as from a health care professional on board. The flight landed safely in Cincinnati where the aircraft was met by medical personnel and the passenger was transported to a local hospital."