Cathay pilots reward ‘heroes’ who saved heart attack passenger

 Phila Siu

Pilots and the public have raised HK$90,000 to reward the “hero” passengers who saved a heart attack victim’s life on a flight from Toronto to Hong Kong.

Three passengers – pharmacist Ramon Goomber and police officer Ming Li, both from Toronto, and British doctor David Monks – resuscitated a 65-year-old Vietnamese man on the Cathay Pacific flight on May 18.

David Monks helped save heart attack victim. Photo: SCMP picture

Their effort was widely reported on aviation forums after it was written up in the British Medical Journal last month.

But while their heroism was noted, the response by Cathay Pacific was apparently less than praiseworthy.

Goomber told a Toronto newspaper that the airline offered only one premium seat for their return to Toronto. “So the heroes of flight CX825 flew back standby to Toronto, with the newlywed Li in a seat with a broken TV,” the Toronto Sunreported.

But a Cathay spokesman said: “Mr Goomber, Mr Li and their companions were offered an upgrade on their flight to Toronto, but there were not enough seats on the front end of that particular flight as they preferred to travel together.

“As a token of our gratitude, we have already offered upgrade vouchers that are valid for a year to the two passengers and their travel companions.”

The Cathay Pacific pilot who started a donation page on fundraising site YouCaring said: “I started this because I felt …that [the heroes] deserve more thanks than they got. The Cathay pilots are now going to thank them in a very significant way.”

The pilot, who wanted to remain anonymous, added: “Many pilots are disappointed by the way the guys were treated, but many more just want to thank them for their selflessness.”

The donation page was full of criticism of the airline, with one post saying: “Amazing job guys, shame CX don’t seem to agree so much.”

The incident on May 18 began seven hours into the 14-hour flight when a passenger began feeling chest pains. Monks, who works with Sydney’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, treated the man with the help of Goomber and Li.

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“He lost his pulse five to six times. And it had been weak,” Monks told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

The flight made an emergency landing in Beijing, where Monks accompanied the man to hospital – where he was discharged 10 days later – while Goomber and Li continued on the flight to Hong Kong.

Monks said Cathay arranged a business class seat for him to get back to Hong Kong from Beijing.