Nurse's nerves of steel helps save life of 3-month-old baby choking and turning blue on Spirit Airlines flight
'I did not know what I was dealing with. Saw an infant. The head was back. Blue lips and her skin turning blue,' says Tamara Panzino
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: In a heartwarming incident, Tamara Panzino, a retired nurse, saved an infant's life on a flight. The child's parents started panicking not knowing what to do as their three-month-old daughter Anjele’s lips turned purple and she looked like she was not breathing. The incident was captured by Ian Casette, a meteorologist, in Orlando and he shared the video on Twitter. He was just three rows behind the baby and her parents. Cassette also wrote in his post, “I’ve never felt that much nervous energy before."
In an interview with WESH, Panzino later shared what happened on the Orlando-bound Spirit Airlines flight. “I was reading my book, not paying attention, and had my earbuds in. And I heard a flight attendant say, ‘We have an infant not breathing.'" she said, adding, “Soon after, an announcement came over the speaker, 'Is there a doctor onboard?'" On hearing this, Panzino rushed to the back of the plane.
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On my flight back from Pittsburgh to Orlando, a baby stopped breathing three rows ahead of me. Thankfully a nurse (Tamara Panzino) was able to get the baby to breathe again. (1) pic.twitter.com/6oDgFCG7FS— Ian Cassette FOX 35 (@iancassette_wx) September 9, 2022
Panzino wasn’t sure what may have caused the baby to stop breathing, “I had no idea whether the baby was choking if the airway was clear. I did not know what I was dealing with. Saw an infant. The head was back. Blue lips and her skin turning blue. Clearly in distress. Not breathing. And my heart just dropped.” However, by using her experience, gleaned from years of working, and asking Anjele's parents a few questions, helped her plan a series of steps she can perform. Panzino, who was flying for a planned vacation, said, “Gave daddy the baby. He held it while I did a sternal rub, kind of an aggressive shake of the chest. Get the baby to react by pinching it. Trying to make it cry or take a deep breath.” Soon the baby's color and she started laughing while other flyers started applauding.
“Spirit had everything we needed right onboard, and before we knew, within a few minutes, the baby was home free. The baby was going to be good. The color came back. I heard breathing sounds. I heard (a) heartbeat. Oh, my gosh, total relief,” said Panzino. When asked how she felt being referred to as a hero by many, she said, “It’s not a hero thing. It’s a community coming together and everyone volunteering to help with what their knowledge can do. I’m glad I was there.”