Nursing student came to aid of injured flight attendant

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

A 23-year-old nursing student was aboard the flight that was diverted to Lake Charles last Tuesday and rendered aid to the

injured flight attendant.

Olivia D’Avanzo, a senior nursing major

at Western Connecticut State University, was in Houston visiting

family. On her flight

home, she said, she never thought her training would be needed.

The flight, bound for New York, contained 88 passengers and

crew members.

“As soon as the plane started on the runway it was rocky, and we had mild turbulence once we were in the air,” D’Avanzo said.

“It wasn’t terrible, but half an hour into the flight we hit an air pocket — that’s when we hit the big jolts.”

She said everything in the plane flew up in the air when the plane dropped. “Things were flying everywhere,” she said. “Everyone

screamed, and then it got very quiet.”

D’Avanzo said one of the flight

attendants came over the speaker and asked if there was a doctor on

board. D’Avanzo and a

paramedic were the only two on Flight 1632 with any medical

training. She said the other two flight attendants were running

up and down the aisle, so the passengers knew something was wrong.

The Lake Charles airport was notified at 8:26 p.m. Tuesday that the plane was 20 miles away. The airplane was being diverted

to Lake Charles because of reported injuries to the three flight attendants and three other passengers.

“We got up and started helping the

flight attendants, and they were very grateful that we could help,” she

said. “Once we

got back there I noticed all three flight attendants were injured,

but one was lying down and was basically screaming in agony.

I held her neck to keep it aligned. She said her neck, back and

ribs hurt, and she couldn’t straighten her legs. If you touched

them, she screamed. She was in extreme pain.”

D’Avanzo said it was her understanding that the flight attendant was in her seat and was ejected.

“We borrowed a pillow from a passenger, and we put that under her head and neck,” she said. “We got her an oxygen tank because

she couldn’t take a breath because her ribs hurt. We put ice on her head.”

D’Avanzo said she stabilized her and

made her as comfortable as possible. She stayed with the flight

attendant until the plane

touched down. “I kept her from moving, helped her with breathing,”

D’Avanzo said. “She held my hand and squeezed it the whole


She said that as soon as they landed, the paramedics came on board and took the flight attendant out of an emergency exit.

She said a pregnant passenger was having contractions or pains across her stomach from her seatbelt. Another woman had a gash

in her neck, and several people had bumped their heads.

The flight attendant remained in

serious but stable condition Tuesday at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital,

one week after the

United Airlines Boeing 737-700 made its emergency landing.

Hospital spokesman Matt Felder said Monday the flight attendant’s

condition is improving.