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Nurses Spring Into Action When Pilot Has Heart Attack Mid Flight

Ralphie Aversa
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On a flight from Des Moines, Iowa, to Denver, Colo., two announcements were made over the intercom. The first asked if anyone on the plane had medical experience. The second asked if any passenger had flight experience.

This story could have had a very tragic ending. But, instead, two nurses came to the rescue of the fallen pilot. Meanwhile, his co-pilot safely landed the plane in Omaha.

"He was sick and mumbling and kind of incoherent," registered nurse Linda Alweiss recalled to KTLA-TV. The Camarillo, Calif., native was one of two nurses aboard the flight who attended to the pilot. She was flying home to California through Denver. "I turned to the co-pilot, and I asked her, 'You know how to land the plane, right?' And she said, 'Yes.'"

Paramedics were waiting on the tarmac when United Airlines flight 1637 touched down in Omaha.

"We just jumped," Amy Sorenson told ABC News of her and Alweiss' reaction. Sorenson, a nurse from Wyoming, helped administer an IV and set up a diagnostic defibrillator. "Knowing that the patient needed care, [we] just jumped into our roles."

A statement released by United confirmed the plane's sudden but safe landing. It also noted that passengers were provided with overnight accommodations before continuing to Denver the next day.

On that flight, Alweiss sat next to the co-pilot, who told her the pilot made it to the cardiac unit at a nearby hospital and had survived.

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