Posted on 12/07/2019
Doreen Lunberg
Doreen Lunberg

Survivor: Donald Wolfson

Date of Event:

Location of Event: Boise, ID, Airport

Doreen Lunberg, Cory Woods

On Wednesday, July 29th, 2015, I boarded SWA flight #898 in Las Vegas, NV, and departed for Boise, ID, for a business meeting. My flight arrived at 5:25 pm. As I headed for the baggage claim, I noticed that I became slightly lightheaded. There were four seats along the right wall of the concourse. When I took a couple of steps I felt my lightheadedness increase and decided to sit down. I was perhaps 10 feet from the seats when I realized that I was not going to make it. I started to fall and at a 45-degree angle, I began to reach for the floor to break my fall. No chest pain, no clamminess, no feeling, just peaceful quiet and complete darkness…

Doreen Lunberg, an off-duty 20 year senior United flight attendant had missed her 2 o’clock flight to visit her mother in Santa Clara, CA. She was bumped off the next available flight. She waited to catch a 6 o’clock flight and visited the ladies’ room prior to boarding.

Upon exiting the restroom, she heard someone shouting “Call 9-1-1”, “Call 9-1-1” as she noticed a commotion across the corridor. By Doreen’s account, there were nine people standing around a body on the floor and she rushed over to find me on the ground having already turned blue.

All flight personnel are recertified annually to administer CPR. Never had she administered CPR on a “live” person. Finding that I had no pulse, she immediately began to administer CPR rapidly compressing my chest multiple times as hard as she could. Another traveler, Cory Woods joined her and assisted administering CPR. Cory is a healthcare instructor at the Blue Ridge School for Boys in St. George, VA, certified in CPR/AED/First-Aid training where he teaches healthcare to his students. Another passenger in the concourse arrived and Doreen told him to get the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Quick responses by an off-duty flight attendant and two wonderful passengers in the concourse brought me back to life through their CPR skills and the administration of an AED that was hanging on the concourse wall feet from where I had fallen. The airport paramedics took over stabilizing my condition and prepared me for transfer to Boise EMRs for transport to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Doreen waved off her third flight and asked if she could ride with me in the ambulance to the hospital. She was told by the EMRs that HIPAA laws prevented this and besides, in their opinion, I was not going to survive. Doreen would not be denied as she raced to her car to make the drive to the hospital. Her father had died alone at his home the previous Valentine’s Day and she did not want me to die alone.

Unless lifesavers such as Doreen, Cory and another unnamed traveler engaged to actively save my life, my 2-3 minute window would have elapsed and I would be another statistic in the sudden cardiac arrest death column.