Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for J/P HRO file
U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz speaks during the annual Sean Penn and Friends Help Haiti Home Gala in January in Los Angeles.
A California congressman helped resuscitate a man who had passed out on an American Airlines flight to Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday morning.
U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif. — who is an emergency room physician — was on a plane from Washington, D.C., to DFW International Airport when a man lost consciousness about 30 minutes into the flight.
“That’s when Congressman Ruiz stepped in and administered help,” said Michael Ford, a spokesman for Ruiz.
The congressman and a firefighter aboard the plane provided oxygen to the ailing passenger and put on a defibrillator to check his vital signs, Ford said. There were 125 passengers and five crew members aboard the plane.
“He is a physician first and foremost, before he was ever a congressman,” Ford said. “He still is a doctor first; in that situation, luckily the congressman was able to step in and provide the care the gentleman needed at that time.”
The plane made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, where it was met by medical personnel, according to Mike Trevino, a spokesman for American Airlines. The airline could not confirm the status of the passenger.
NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that Ruiz estimated the passenger to be in his mid-60s and said the passenger was alert and talking to paramedics by the time the plane landed.
Medical emergency on flight from DC to TX. Passenger collapses. @CongressmanRuiz, an MD, on board. Passenger stabilized. Landing in Raleigh.— Pete Gallego (@RepPeteGallego) October 24, 2013
The flight then continued to Dallas-Fort Worth, where Ruiz boarded another plane back to his district office in Palm Springs, Calif.
U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, was also on the plane and “felt safer having Congressman Ruiz on the plane,” said Markel Bilbao, a spokesman for Gallego.
Gallego tweeted his support for Ruiz’s efforts.
Hope @CongressmanRuiz is on all my flights home! An emergency room dr by training, was impressive to see him in action. He saves lives!— Pete Gallego (@RepPeteGallego) October 24, 2013
Ruiz told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that this was not the first such incident. He said he's been able to help a handful of other passengers who've passed out on flights home from D.C.