For Airman 1st Class Joshua Sandoval, his Oct. 21 mid-morning flight out of San Antonio was more eventful than he probably thought it would be. En route from his basic military training to his technical school here he used his military training to help save the life of an injured flight attendant.
Anyone who’s gone through basic training remembers that one glorious day after graduation when it’s time to depart for technical training school. Other than perhaps the first day of basic, that travel day can feel like one of the longest during a service member’s training. It starts earlier than usual — around 1 a.m. — and the anticipation mixed with the waiting for buses and flights can be excruciating.
But it was on the first leg of his journey to Fort Leonard Wood where his training and courage came in handy.
“It was maybe 15, 20 minutes in — towards the beginning of the flight — just about the time we got to our cruising altitude when it happened,” he said.
Heavy turbulence hit the aircraft, and one of the flight attendants servicing American Airlines Flight 5292 fell and was knocked unconscious.
“She hit her head on either the seat or the armrest as she fell,” Sandoval said. “She went unconscious for about a minute.”
An announcement was made asking if a doctor was onboard, and Sandoval — the only person in a military uniform on the flight — stood up.
“It was me and two civilians in my row who went up to address the situation,” he said. “We had to do CPR, but luckily not that long because she started breathing right away. She was just in and out of it, so we just kept talking to her to make sure she would stay awake.”
Also on the flight was Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Rey Schultz, 690th Cyberspace Operations Group superintendent, who witnessed Sandoval’s heroics.
“He immediately jumped in and delivered assistance by providing an ice pack and compression while also keeping her awake (and) engaged in conversation,” Schultz said. “It would have been easy for him to sit back and watch the events unfold, but he didn’t, and it was truly a great way for the civilian community to see what our outstanding Airmen do every day.”
The flight diverted to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, and Sandoval and the two civilians assisted the air crew until the plane landed and a medical team could take over.
“There were quite a few people after we landed who came up and thanked me,” Sandoval said. “The pilot came over to me and shook my hand.”
Sandoval credits training he received in BMT at Lackland.
“I was very nervous,” he said, “but I learned CPR and first aid in basic training, so I did my best to help out in any way I could.”
Sandoval — here for a six-week ground transportation course that will teach him vehicle and cargo logistical operations — told his family in Clovis, New Mexico, about his eventful journey to technical school.
“They were just glad and happy that I was able to help someone and help save a life,” he said.