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Deputy aids passenger in mid-flight

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Albany/HV: Deputy aids passenger in mid-flight
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It's a frightening scenario: a medical situation thousands of miles up in the air. Thanks to the training of a local off-duty deputy, though, a passenger on a plane was taken care of. Innae Park has the story.

TROY, N.Y. -- Deputy Adrian Morin has been with the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office for eight years. His work has been recognized by those who work alongside him.

However, it was his action on a plane in mid-flight that led him to be honored at the county legislature meeting Tuesday night with a resolution and a pin given to courageous members of Rensselaer County.

“I never expected any of it. But thank you,” said Morin.

It’s all due to an incident on October 14th on a US Airways flight from Charlotte to Albany. Phillip Blackstone, 68, of Rotterdam, was a passenger on flight 1495. He said, “I was feeling awful at the time, next thing I know, I was out.”

“I peered at the back of the plane and Mr. [Phillip] Blackstone was laying on the floor. And the stewardess asked, ‘Does anybody have any medical training?’ And I'm looking around, and nobody's raising their hands, so I stood up and I said, ‘I'm an EMT,’” Morin described. “I started to try to wake him up, try to get some kind of response from him.”

The deputy asked Blackstone’s wife about what he had eaten that day and which medicines he had taken. Eventually, Morin and the stewardess were able to move Blackstone onto a row of three seats, where they fed him apple juice. Morin said, “We just kept checking vitals. About 15 minutes after that, he began to sweat, warm up.”

While the medical attention was appreciated, Blackstone said it was Morin’s presence that meant the world to him. “That was the big thing. He was just so comforting. He kept telling me, 'It's ok, it's alright,’” he said.

The flight landed safely and earlier than scheduled at Albany International. Morin then stepped aside to allow other emergency personnel to treat Blackstone and take him to the hospital. The man was found to be severely dehydrated. Once released though, Blackstone couldn't help but reach out.

The deputy said, “I see this strange number on the phone a few days later, and I answered it, and the first word that comes out of his mouth are: ‘Your friend from 30,000 feet.’”

Blackstone also sent a letter of gratitude to Sheriff Jack Mahar. “He deserves it, many times over,” said Blackstone. “That's why I could hardly wait to get a letter in the mail and show my appreciation for what he did.”

Morin isn't an EMT on the side. He received the training three years ago as required by his employer.

“We're the only county [in New York state] that mandates all the deputies be EMTs,” said Sheriff Mahar. “They continue training each year to maintain that title.”

“That was the best part, having the knowledge to help somebody when they needed it,” said Morin. “And I'm glad I was able to help Mr. Blackstone.”

He isn't the only one.

“I was very happy he had the training also,” said Blackstone.

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