A devastated New Mexico woman says her husband died of a heart attack on a Southwest Airlines flight because a flight attendant refused to use a defibrillator, stating that “his chest is too hairy.”
Caroline Jordan’s husband, Jack Jordon, 62, suffered a heart attack on a flight from Los Angeles to Albuquerque.
Passengers, a nurse and a physical therapist all performed CPR on her husband. A third passenger asked why they didn’t use the on-board defibrillator, but a female flight attendant dismissed that idea.
"The flight attendant that had been right up there with us said 'because his chest is too hairy,'" Jordan told KOAT.
Dr. Barry Ramo told the news channel that defibrillator kits have tools to remove items that would impede the device, but that hair is rarely a factor for the device not working.
“The defibrillator is really what saves the lives,” Ramo said. “Especially if it happens and you can defibrillate someone in three minutes.”
“I don't expect the airlines or flight attendants to be nurses or doctors. Not anywhere close,” she said. “But, in that kind of a circumstance, one of the first things that they should be doing is getting that AED hooked up.”
Passengers eventually shaved her husband’s chest and hooked up the device, but he died at the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the passenger for her loss,” Southwest Airlines spokesperson Michelle Agnews said in an email to MailOnline. “Our reports indicate that once notified of his condition, our flight attendants and two onboard medical professionals assisted the ill passenger, following protocol for use of our onboard automated external defibrillator (AED).”
“All of our aircraft are fully equipped with AEDs and our flight attendants receive initial and annual recurrent CPR and AED training," it said. "While in the air, our Employees contacted paramedics to meet the flight immediately upon arrival.”
Image screenshot: KOAT