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Nurses save pilot suffering from apparent heart attack mid-flight

A mile-high emergency on a United Airlines flight prompted nurses to take desperate measures to save a pilot's life.
January 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
When the pilot of United Airlines Flight 6037, packed with more than 150 passengers and crew, suffered an apparent heart attack, it was nurses Amy Sorenson and Linda Alweiss way back in coach who sprang into action and saved the day.

"They came over the PSA, asking if anybody on board had any medical experience," said Sorenson.

Alweiss said she didn't hear it at first.

"My daughter and husband, who were sitting behind me heard it and tapped on my shoulder and told me to get up and respond," said Alweiss.

The Denver-bound United flight originated in Des Moines. Thirty minutes into the flight, attendants announced there was a medical emergency. The flight turned around to make an emergency landing in Omaha.

"This is what happens in movies. This isn't what happens in real life," said Sorenson.

Sorenson, a 24-year-old from Wyoming, along with Alweiss, a veteran nurse from Camarillo, say the captain was showing signs of suffering from cardiac arrest.

"The pilot was clearly in distress. He kind of had his head down and was kind of mumbling. I was unable to get a pulse on his wrist," said Alweiss.

Passengers looked on as the nurses scrambled to stabilize the pilot.

"Once we got the pilot into the galley, both Amy and I went to work. There was a medical supply bag on board for medical personnel only, which was great. It was full of the IV fluids and the equipment that we needed," said Alweiss.

Both worked in tandem on this day to help save a life, but neither is calling their actions heroic.

"I really don't see myself as a hero. I did what I know for a patient that needed it," said Sorenson.


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