An emergency medical technician who performed CPR on a man in cardiac arrest during a United Airlines flight said he was now showing signs of COVID-19.
Tony Aldapa said he was due to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday because he is not only an authorized EMT, but also an emergency medical worker. But instead, he is in quarantine at home, waiting for the latest results of a COVID-19 test.
“Ten times out of ten, I would get up and help,” Aldapa said.
His training began to help a man suffering from cardiac arrest on a flight from Orlando to LAX. The US Navy veteran says he knew the risks when he performed CPR on the man, whose wife said he had coronavirus-like symptoms.
“That was the last thing I thought about,” Aldapa said. “I just thought there was a guy who needed CPR.”
But since Monday’s flight, he has been suffering from coronavirus symptoms.
“I still feel headaches, coughs, body aches,” he said.
He, along with another EMT and ICU nurse, performed CPR men in turn. The man’s wife was heard saying that she had lost her sense of taste and smell and told Aldapa that she was ill before the flight.
“She told me she was out of breath and was going to take the COVID test on the way home,” Aldapa said.
Aldapa says he never did mouth to mouth, but while doing chest compressions in the tight aisle for 45 minutes, he rotated a resuscitator and an oxygen mask to help the man breathe.
After an emergency landing to take the man to a hospital, where he later died, the flight continued to LAX.
United Airlines said all passengers must complete a ready-to-fly questionnaire to acknowledge that they have no COVID-19 or symptoms. While several passengers say the man helped by Aldapa showed symptoms, it is not clear if he had coronavirus.
Aldapa says we have to hold ourselves accountable.
“If you know you’re sick, beware of yourself, but watch out for the people around you … make the right choices,” he said.
The airline arrived in Aldapa to thank him and said he had sent the flight manifesto to the CDC.
Aldapa says the CDC has not contacted him yet.
The CDC told NBC4 that it is working with local health authorities to reach those who may be at risk of infection.