Farmer's first aid saves 'dead' passenger
She wasn't breathing, her skin was blue and she had no pulse.
With 6 hours left in the flight from Narita, Japan, Stu Husband thought his fellow passenger was dead.
The former career fireman, now a Waikato dairy farmer and regional councillor, was alerted to the Japanese woman's near fatal condition on board Air New Zealand flight 90.
She was sitting directly behind him when he felt kicking against his chair. He turned to see what the commotion was and 14 years of first response training kicked into gear.
"I looked over and the daughter said 'my mother is dead, very sick'," said Husband. "I felt her pulse, I couldn't feel her pulse at that time. She had no air coming out of her so it was pretty obvious she wasn't breathing."
He said the woman was already cold and he thought the worst.
"I actually said to the airline guy she had passed away. I couldn't get a pulse, I just couldn't get a pulse."
But he wasn't about to give up so he shook her and gave her a "massive big thrust" on her sternum.
She showed signs of life but could not breathe.
He put his finger in her mouth to clear any blockage that might have been there.
"I got my finger and went in her mouth and did a bit of a finger sweep, next thing: ‘Ahhhh', she took a massive big gasp in."
He said she was as close to death as he could imagine.
"She was right on the brink, right on the brink of walking out the door."
The 67-year-old woman was brought down from her seat to the aisle where she was given oxygen.
"We cared for her right through and kept doing her vitals and looking after her."
"I managed to get her blood pressure off her, they had a blood pressure kit on the plane, so she actually had pretty good blood pressure and she was away."
Husband was in Japan for seven days and the Air New Zealand flight was "somewhere over Papua New Guinea" when he became an in-flight hero.
"No," he said at the suggestion of heroism.
"I was sort of hoping I was doing something anyone else would've done."
Ambulance Northern Communications team manager Norm Ngatai said ambulance staff attended a 67-year-old woman at Auckland Airport just after 9.30am on Monday.
"We were responding to a patient who had no pulse and stopped breathing temporarily," said Ngatai. "We did attend, the patient was a 67-year-old female, that was on board Air NZ90 from Tokyo to Auckland."
Air NZ said it would not comment on individual passengers.
Husband never thought his first aid training would come in handy, let alone save a life, he said.
"You think, when am I ever going to use it? You never know, I would've never thought that would've happened."
The grateful family offered Husband "bundles of cash" for his help but he refused.
The feeling of saving a life was better than anything he'd done, even after 14 years in the fire brigade.
"I've never actually one-on-one saved anyone like that," he said.
"Yeah, I guess I've pulled people out of fires and that but the one-on-one feeling where these people could die in the next second if you don't do something. It was a good feeling."
- Waikato Times