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Local man helps save a life at 35,000 feet

Since the early 1970s, Tyrone’s Jay Young has dedicated his life to helping others. Whether working as fire chief or emergency service manager in Lock Haven, or helping the locals in Northern Blair County with his fire and rescue training, he said he’s pretty much seen it all.
But the situation that unfolded Aug. , 2002 in California was one he has never found himself in in nearly 30 years of rescue experience.
Young and his wife Deanna were on U.S. Airways flight No. 36 from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh. He had just completed more than a week’s worth of fire/rescue training at the McGoo Naval Air Station, located in Ventura County, California. He was ready to come home and relax.
But just an hour into the flight, right after breakfast was served, a flight attendant activated the intercom. She wanted to know if there was anybody onboard with medical training.
“I immediately put my hand up,” said Young. “They escorted me to the first class compartment. That’s where I saw him.”
The “him” was 71-year-old Nelson Fox of Wilder, Ky. He and his wife Nell were returning home after a visit with their daughter, her husband and their three children.
“I saw him (Mr. Fox) while we were at the airport waiting to board the plane,” said Young. “He seemed fine. He was up and walking around and talking.”
But after Young reached the first-class compartment, he immediately knew Fox wasn’t the same man as he was at the airport.
“He showed all the signs of cardiac arrest,” said Young. “He was profusely sweating, he was dizzy and he had pains in his chest, left arm and neck. He was experiencing a heart attack.”
Young said this wasn’t his first time finding himself in a situation involving a heart attack victim. He feared only the airline’s crew didn’t have the proper equipment to treat Fox.
“I was surprised when the flight attendant handed me an advanced life support kit,” he said. “I opened it and found everything I needed – medicine, and automatic defribilator and equipment for an IV.”
“We jumped right in,” said Young, noting he was assisted by Carol Lewis, a passenger from Canton, Ohio, who, fortunately, also had prior emergency medical training. “We established an IV and gave him some oxygen. Soon, we had him stabilized.”
After relaying the information on Fox’s condition to the pilot, arrangements were made to make an emergency re-direct for a landing at a United States Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Young said once the plane landed, an emergency crew immediately took over, transported Fox to a local medical unit, where the man stayed for six more says until his healthy release.
“What that man did for me is simple,” said Fox from his home in Kentucky this week. “He saved my life. There will be never anything I can do to repay a debt like that, but if there was, I would do it.”
According to Fox, he recovered from his ordeal while in the hospital and was released Aug. 13. He and his wife immediately boarded a flight home, but this time, on Delta Airlines.
“Nothing against U.S. Air, I just wanted someone else to take me home,” said Fox.
Looking back, Young said he was glad Fox survived the incident and was pleasantly surprised more than a month later when a “Thank You” card arrived in his Tyrone mailbox.
“In this line of work, you are hardly ever thanked for what you do,” said Young. “And as a provider of medical services, we don’t expect that. But this card was special because I knew the sincerity in it. This man was a good man and he deserved to live. I was just glad I was able to be there to help him.”
Fox said he is fine and doing well in Kentucky and his heart attack on Aug. 7 hasn’t really held him back in doing the things he likes to do.
“I’m starting to get back to 100 percent and I owe it all to those who helped me up there,” said Fox. “If they wouldn’t have been on that place, I probably wouldn’t be talking anyone right now. It’s hard to put into words how I fell about these people.
“I guess all I can say is thank you’.”
Young was recently recognized for his effort by U.S. Airways when the company sent him a letter thanking him for his heroism on the flight. Accompanying the letter was a complimentary round-trip ticket to anywhere in the United States.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it,” he said. “Definitely a nice trip. I think my wife wants to go to Oregon, but maybe we’ll visit Florida. I’m not sure yet.”
Regardless of where the happy couple decides to travel, the passengers on that plane can be assured one thing, if there’s a medical emergency, they won’t be there alone.