Man shows symptoms after aiding flight passenger with virus
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A paramedic said he had COVID-19 symptoms after performing CPR on a man infected with the coronavirus who later died after suffering a cardiac arrest on a United Airlines flight.
Tony Aldapa, a veteran in the Navy, said his training began when he saw the passenger needed medical attention on the December 14 flight from Orlando, Florida to Los Angeles. Knowing the potential health risks of CPR in someone he didn't know but didn't shy away from, he started chest compressions on the man whose wife Aldapa said he had viral symptoms, KNBC-TV reported.
An autopsy found the man died of acute respiratory failure and confirmed he was infected with COVID-19, USA Today reported.
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Aldapa said he planned to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday as he is a licensed paramedic and an ambulance. Instead, he's waiting for the results of a coronavirus test.
"Ten times out of ten I would still get up and help," said Aldapa, who had had a headache, cough and body ache since soon after the flight. "I just thought there was a man who needed CPR."
Aldapa, along with another EMT and ICU nurse, took turns performing CPR on the man who was not identified. The group did not go from mouth to mouth but rotated a resuscitator and an oxygen mask to make it easier for the man to breathe while he performed chest compressions for 45 minutes.
The man's wife heard how he felt sick before the flight and lost his sense of taste and smell.
"She told me he was short of breath and that he would be tested for COVID on the way home," said Aldapa, who works at a veterans administration medical center in West Los Angeles.
The man died after an emergency landing in a hospital. The flight continued to Los Angeles.
According to United Airlines, all passengers must complete a ready-to-fly questionnaire to confirm that they do not have COVID-19 or related symptoms. Several passengers said the man Aldapa helped showed symptoms but it remained unclear whether he had the coronavirus.
The airline reached out to Aldapa to thank him and said it had sent the flight manifest to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aldapa said the CDC had not contacted him.
In most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which will get better in two to three weeks. Some - especially older adults and those with existing health problems - can experience more serious illnesses such as pneumonia and death.
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