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PSA Crew Members Work Together to Save a Life Onboard an Aircraft

January 9, 2023

PSA Crew Members Work Together to Save a Life Onboard an Aircraft

On Dec. 22, 2018 a team of crew members were faced with profound and unfortunate circumstances as an emergency occurred during the boarding process. But it was a time to spring into action and work together to defy odds to save a child’s life.

Flight Attendant Odette Choucaira was at the front of the aircraft and Flight Attendant Sara Baggott was in the back assisting passengers. Captain Rick Bendel was in the flight deck door area greeting passengers as they came onboard while First Officer Andrew Traynor set up the airplane to fly.

About halfway through the boarding process, things changed abruptly when Sara observed a father with a baby in his arms and it looked as if the child wasn’t breathing. Sara immediately pushed the emergency chimes button to alert Rick. Then, over the intercom, she asked passengers to clear the aisle so the father could come through. Rick, who was an EMT in college, kept calm, but knew the urgency of the situation. He escorted the passenger to the gate, where he told the gate agent to contact emergency services. Using his medical training, Rick took the baby and applied a sternum rub and after just a few seconds, the child began to cry – a sound Rick was very grateful to hear.

A paramedic who was a passenger emerged from the aircraft to lend assistance and shortly after that, airport emergency personnel arrived and determined that the child should be taken to the hospital.

Rick’s attention turned to caring for the family. The mother had come out to the gate to check on her baby and escorted her to help her collect her belongings from inside the plane. He then directed Brian McCray, a PSA First Officer assigned to the jumpseat, to coordinate with the parents, gate manager and ramp manager to see to it the family’s bags, car seats and stroller were removed from the aircraft and secured by the mother. Brian showed no hesitation in doing what needed to be done, Rick said.

While the flight took a delay, that wasn’t what was on Rick’s mind – taking care of the customer was his main priority.

“There is more to this job than flying the plane,” he said. “We have people who really need us. We have exceptional crew members here at PSA. Everyone pulled together in this situation and I’m grateful for the way it turned out. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. This was a win!”

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