The quick thinking of Iceland Express staff saved the life of a 30 year-old woman who recently lost consciousness on the way from Barcelona to Reykjavik, reports Icelandic newspaper 24 Stundir.
The woman fell ill 45 minutes after takeoff with an irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
“The crew began by asking if there was a doctor onboard, and then considering the woman’s condition, it was decided to land the plane as quickly as possible,” the captain said. Out of respect for his colleagues, the captain requested his name not be published.
It was thought the woman was suffering a very serious asthma attack, but had forgotten to take her asthma medicine with her onboard. The crew gave her oxygen and asthma medicine from the plane’s emergency kit, but without success.
The pilots decided to land the plane in Basel, Switzerland. The woman spent a day and a half in hospital before continuing to Iceland where she is visiting relatives.
Doctors informed her that she could have died of a lack of oxygen if not for the quick thinking of the Icelandic budget airline ’s crewmembers.
The captain said the landing in Basel went well, but added that when a plane has spent only a short period of time in the air and is still full of fuel, it can be very difficult to land. For that reason, the pilots had to burn off fuel as quickly as possible before landing, including flying with the landing gear down to reduce aerodynamic efficiency.
The captain also said that once or twice a year he is required to perform an early landing due to a passenger falling ill. “I didn’t do anything heroic,” he said. “This is just a part of our job, and we are trained to deal with difficult situations.”
Due to health and safety regulations, the crew were not allowed to carry on with the flight, and “as there were no other Iceland Express crews at the airport at the time, the passengers were put up in a hotel overnight,” said Iceland Express media representative Lara Omarsdottir. She said the other passengers on board were very understanding and were able to continue their journey they next day.