Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the man was treated at a hospital and released. It’s not known what happened to cause the medical emergency.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A group of strangers worked together to help save a man who was found unconscious on an American Airlines flight from Cancún to Austin on Sunday.
Megan Sconzert, an ICU nurse at Seton Medical Center in Austin, was coming back home from a bachelorette party in Tulum. She said a flight attendant had tried to wake the man and then she stepped up to assist when she heard him say “he has a pulse.”
Onboard the flight was not only Sconzert but also a pediatric ICU nurse practitioner, a surgical oncologist, an ER/prison nurse and a trained first responder. They all worked together to help the patient, including rescue breathing, putting in an IV and administering naloxone — a medicine often known by the brand name Narcan, that can be used to rapidly reverse a suspected opioid overdose — just in case.
“Too much Narcan isn’t going to do anything bad, per se, but definitely not enough Narcan will definitely be a lot worse,” Sconzert said.
They looked through the patient’s belongings to try to determine how to best treat him. Sconzert said he had different medications as well as what was described as unknown white pills at the bottom of his bags. A family member of the man told KXAN all the medications had been prescribed by a doctor.
A family member of the man told KXAN he was taken to the ER where tests indicated some kind of infection. He is home and recovering. KXAN is not identifying him to maintain his privacy.
Others passengers also helped, including 23-year-old Samuel Coon, who was in the middle seat between his father and the man. Coon held a flashlight while they assisted with starting an IV.
“He held so many random objects that I handed him and stayed calm and collected the whole time,” Sconzert said.
The patient was eventually stabilized, and the flight made an emergency landing in New Orleans. A spokesperson from American Airlines confirmed in a statement first responders met the aircraft in New Orleans, and the flight re-departed. The passengers were able to land after midnight in Austin.
“We wouldn’t have been successful in stabilizing this patient without the teamwork,” Sconzert said. “I am eternally grateful that so many medical [personnel] were on this flight and sitting in such close proximity.”
Sconzert told KXAN on the way to the airport, she upgraded her seat, moving her up from row 24 to 18, a seat that ended up being directly behind the passenger experiencing the problem.
The man’s family member said they are extremely thankful to everyone on the flight, adding “if those people didn’t step up, he might not have been OK.”