‘I’m glad I was there’


Orlando (WISH) - A retired nurse jumped into action and rescued a 3-month-old who had stopped breathing during the flight.

Tamara Panzino was already on vacation mode 35 minutes into Thursday night’s Spirit flight from Pittsburgh to Orlando.

“I was reading my book, and I didn’t care, my ear buds were in, and I heard a flight attendant say, ‘We have a baby who’s not breathing,'” Panzino said.

Soon, an announcement came through the speaker asking if there was a doctor on board. Panzino, a retired registered nurse, got up and ran to the back of the plane to help the three-month-old.

“I didn’t know what I was dealing with. I saw a baby boy. My head was back and lips blue, and my heart just fell,” Panzino said.

Although Panzino retired, her years of nursing experience began. A round of questions revealed that the infant was lying still when she stopped breathing.

“My dad gave the baby, holding him while I was rubbing the sternum, some kind of aggressive chest shaking…trying to make him cry, and taking a deep breath,” said Panzino.

Then the group moved to the front of the plane

“The baby’s color is starting to look better. I was very happy, but I kept rocking it hard,” Panzino said.

Panzino did not have to perform CPR and described the response as a team effort.

“Spirit Airlines had everything we needed on the plane, and before we knew it, within two minutes, we were home for free. Baby was about to be good. The color was back. I heard breathing sounds, heartbeats. Total relief,” Panzino said. .

She presses for the title of champion.

“It’s not a hero thing. It’s a community that comes together and everyone volunteers to do what their knowledge can help them do. I’m glad I was there,” she said.

After a day to decompress, Panzino was ready for her and her husband’s Caribbean cruise out of Port Canaveral over the weekend.

Spirit Airlines issued a statement thanking Panzino and cabin crew for their prompt response.