NEWS | Jan. 8, 2016

JB Charleston Sailor hero aids unconscious man on flight

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Jackson NHCC

A Joint Base Charleston Sailor is being hailed as a hero for providing medical aid to a man who fainted while on an airplane, 35,000 feet in the air.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Davis was returning from holiday leave Dec. 27 aboard an Alaskan Airlines flight from Seattle, Washington to Charleston, SC when a fellow passenger lost consciousness. Davis, a hospital corpsman serving at Naval Health Clinic Charleston, helped stabilize the passenger.

"About two and a half hours into the four and half hour flight, I heard flight attendants asking if there were any doctors or nurses on the plane," Davis said. "I was surprised to hear them at all, because I was listening to music with my headphones on. But when I realized there was an emergency, I turned around and said, 'I'm a corpsman.'"

Two passengers sitting next to Davis moved so he could go to the back of the plane to assess the situation. A woman had summoned the flight attendants to help her husband, a 51-year-old man, who was unconscious in his seat. Davis noticed that the man was flush. 

Davis checked the man's pulse and made sure he was breathing and that his heart was beating. If he had found an irregular pulse or no pulse, possible symptoms of a heart attack, Davis said he would have had to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation or use a defibrillator until the plane landed.

"Luckily that wasn't the case," Davis said. "The man's pulse was weak but it was consistent."

Davis picked the unconscious man up from underneath his arms and eased him on the floor of the plane. Davis used a neck pillow to stabilize the man's head. He used two passenger bags to elevate his feet, and another bag propped up under the man's knees, to get blood flow to the man's head.

As the man still remained unresponsive, another gentleman assisted Davis and gave the man a sternum rub, which is a relatively painful fist rub along the sternum, that woke him up.

Davis stayed with the man as he lay in the aisle for another 15 minutes. When the man was fully coherent, Davis helped him return to his seat. Davis placed an ice pack on his neck, against the pillow and requested that a flight attendant bring cool damp cloths to place on the man's forehead. Davis also asked for the man to be given orange juice in case his blood sugar was low.

Davis used a blood pressure cuff to check the man's blood pressure and vitals. His blood pressure and pulse were now within normal range. Davis sat across from the man and monitored his vitals for another 20 minutes, before returning to his seat, about seven rows away. 

One of the passengers, who had been sitting next to Davis, moved to the window seat to allow Davis to sit in the aisle seat, where he continued to look back to check on the man every 20 to 30 minutes. The men exchanged thumbs up to signify that the he was okay.

During the ordeal, the flight attendants communicated with medical crews on the ground.

The couple had been traveling to Charleston for a wedding. The wife was panicked during the ordeal, gripping Davis' shoulder the entire time.

"I was glad I knew exactly what to do, that I was able to keep calm and that I was able to keep everyone else calm," Davis said. "My training took over. I just acted."

While Davis was helping the man, a flight attendant handed him a Good Samaritan certificate, a $200 voucher toward a future flight. The man thanked Davis when he saw him at the baggage claim.

Naval Health Clinic Charleston Command Master Chief Robert Miley said he is proud by Davis' display of heroism and poise during the incident.

"He's an awesome Sailor," Miley said. "I'm not surprised at all that he was able to rise to the occasion and perform the way that he did."

Davis, who said he always carries his Basic Life Suport card in his wallet, said he was confident during the situation because of his training and because of his experience responding to medical emergencies while working at Naval Health Clinic Charleston.

"I know what to do," said Davis. "Corpsmen rise to the occasion. We don't panic. We just act."

Davis has been in the Navy for seven and a half years, three and a half of which have been at NHCC. It's been a busy few months for Davis; he was recently named NHCC's Junior Sailor of the Quarter, and on Dec. 11 he reenlisted aboard the USS Yorktown, located at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant.
is helped him return to his seat. Davis placed an ice pack on his neck, against the