Last updated: 03:55 PM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Former Paramedic Assists Seriously Ill Passenger Aboard US Airways Flight

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | June 11, 2015

Former Paramedic Assists Seriously Ill Passenger Aboard US Airways Flight

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Soon-to-be-retired 50-year-old Philadelphia Fire Paramedic Captain Richard Bratcher went from passenger to hero in a matter of minutes aboard a recent US Airways flight from Orlando to Philadelphia when a fellow passenger fell ill, according to NBC 10 Philadelphia

The 57-year-old passenger, who Bratcher described as appearing "gray," became sick about an hour into the flight. "All you had to do was look at this man and know he was very sick," Bratcher told NBC 10. "He was gray. His lips were blue.

When the flight crew requested the assistance of someone with medical training over the plane's intercom system, Bratcher, a former paramedic and now a supervisor, stepped forward.

Upon examining the ill passenger, Bratcher told the flight crew to gather oxygen, water and aspirin. 

"Then probably within 15 minutes of chewing the aspirin and oxygen, his color came back into his face," Bratcher told NBC 10. "By the time we landed in Philly, we were laughing and joking with each other. It was an experience. It was really an experience."

The normally two-and-a-half hour flight landed 45 minutes early at Philadelphia International Airport after Bratcher said he told the flight crew to tell the plane's pilot to fly faster.

Upon arrival, the flight was met by firefighters and medics on the tarmac. The ill passenger was eventually transported to a nearby hospital, where he is said to be doing well.

"I hope he's doing very well," Bratcher told NBC 10. "Honestly, when the chips are down, you don't remember names. When you do what I've been doing for 30 years, you just go into this automatic mode of, 'Let me make this person better.'"

In addition to other passengers aboard the flight, Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner for EMS Jeremiah Laster praised Bratcher's efforts. 

"He did a great job and we're proud of him," Laster told NBC 10. "There's no greater feeling than to know you made a positive impact on somebody's life."

Yet a humble Bratcher told the news station that he didn't do anything. "I just did what I do," he said. 

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