Lecturer and veteran army nurse is hailed a hero for leaping into action to save man


A lecturer and veteran army nurse has been hailed a hero for leaping into action to save a man ‘suffering a heart attack’ on an easyJet flight from Alicante to Newcastle.

David Armstrong, 68, provided the victim with oxygen and told the pilot to divert the jet to France so he could receive immediate medical attention.

The aircraft then headed off to Nantes where paramedics met the man, named Steven, at the end of the runway. 

When Mr Armstrong, who was travelling with his wife Debra, 58, returned to his seat, he was given a round of applause by those onboard.

The Associate Lecturer in Nursing at Northumbria University is a qualified nurse with a background in critical care. He was also a commanding officer for the 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment within the British Army.

David Armstrong pictured in his military uniform. The lecturer and veteran army nurse has been hailed a hero for leaping into action to save a man 'suffering a heart attack' on a flight from Alicante to Newcastle

David Armstrong pictured in his military uniform. The lecturer and veteran army nurse has been hailed a hero for leaping into action to save a man ‘suffering a heart attack’ on a flight from Alicante to Newcastle

Mr Armstrong pictured with wife Debra. Mr Armstrong, 68, provided the victim with oxygen and told the pilot to divert the jet to France so he could receive immediate medical attention

Mr Armstrong pictured with wife Debra. Mr Armstrong, 68, provided the victim with oxygen and told the pilot to divert the jet to France so he could receive immediate medical attention

He said: ‘My wife and I were returning home from a spell at our place in Spain.

‘I was watching a movie on my iPad and my wife noticed that a gentleman two or three rows in front of us looked ill. I put the iPad down and the cabin crew asked if there was doctor or anyone with medical qualifications on board who was able to give them some help.

‘The gentleman, called Steven, was complaining of pain down to his left arm and up to his jaw, which are classic symptoms of a heart attack.

‘This chap was adamant he was getting back to Newcastle. 

‘He had his daughter there and his wife, I had to reassure them. I said “I’ll keep an eye on him for a short time”. 

‘I got some oxygen from the cabin crew and I gave him some oxygen.

‘I found out he had some GTN spray, which dilutes the blood around the heart and creates a better blood flow to the heart. I put a couple of squirts of that under his tongue.

‘He was still looking not well at all, however he was still adamant he was going to Newcastle. I said “I’m taking the decision out of your hands, you’re not going to Newcastle”.’

Mr Armstrong, who lives in Annitsford, North Tyneside, said he was concerned the man was going to have a ‘full blown cardiac arrest’ during the incident on April 30.

‘I could tell the chap was deteriorating and he would have went into cardiac arrest,’ the grandfather said. ‘That’s why I had to get the aircraft down on the ground.

‘The most embarrassing thing was when I went back to my seat the passengers burst into spontaneous applause. I only did what anyone else in the same position would do. 

‘The cabin crew were absolutely excellent. They said “Would you like a drink? Anything you want.” 

When Mr Amstrong, who was travelling with his wife Debra, 58, returned to his seat on the easyJet flight, he was given a round of applause by those onboard (Stock Photo)

When Mr Amstrong, who was travelling with his wife Debra, 58, returned to his seat on the easyJet flight, he was given a round of applause by those onboard (Stock Photo)

‘They were really nice and I got a cup of coffee.’

Incredibly, the lecturer said he had helped another passenger experiencing health problems just weeks earlier, when he intervened when a traveller was having a seizure on a flight from Singapore to Manchester in March.

He said: ‘I was coming back with my wife, we had been on a cruise around Asia. 

‘He had a seizure, I looked after him and he was okay. He was stable. I was happy to continue flying. I felt he was okay to continue back.’ 

A spokesperson for easyJet said: ‘We can confirm that flight EJU5517 from Alicante to Newcastle on 30 April diverted to Nantes due to a passenger onboard requiring urgent medical assistance.

‘The passenger was assisted by Mr Armstrong as a medical professional onboard and our crew arranged for medical services to meet the aircraft on arrival where the passenger was transferred to hospital, before the flight continued to Newcastle.

‘We have been in touch with the family to ensure their wellbeing and with Mr Armstrong to thank him for his support. The safety and wellbeing of customers and crew is our highest priority.’



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