Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Elyria 36°
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Elyria nurses became heroes mid-flight

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    Nurses Denise Dalton, left, and Selena Bruck, shown here in the emergency room at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, helped care for passengers during a flight from Las Vegas to Cleveland.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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A pair of University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center nurses stepped into action on a frightening flight to give several passengers medical attention after a turbulent journey.

Denise Dalton and Selena Bruck, critical care nurses in the emergency room, said their Sunday evening flight from Las Vegas to Cleveland experienced significant turbulence shortly after takeoff. The resulting rough ride left many passengers with medical emergencies that Dalton and Bruck said they handled despite their own fears.

“Being a nurse has taught me to roll with the punches even through the most turbulent moments in life,” Bruck, 30, said, pun intended.

Dalton said it was some of the worst turbulence she has experienced on a plane.

“I’ve had turbulence before in the past, but nothing like this,” Dalton said.

Dalton said it felt like going down the first hill of a roller coaster except it just kept falling instead of continuing the ride. The initial turbulence lasted a few seconds, but she said it kept starting and stopping for 20 minutes.

To her, it felt like an eternity.

According to FlightAware.com, a live flight tracking website, the flight dipped and gained altitude at hundreds of feet at a time before the pilot diverted the plane to Salt Lake City for an emergency landing.

“It seemed like it lasted forever, but it probably only lasted 15 or 20 minutes,” Bruck said. “It was that constant feeling of your stomach dropping like you were on a roller coaster. The nose would dive and the pilot would pull back up hard to regain altitude. People were screaming, praying, crying and vomiting.”

When the flight settled down and before landing, flight attendants asked if any medical professionals were available. Dalton said she and Bruck volunteered despite being shaken up. As critical care nurses, they were the most qualified among the medical professionals who volunteered and led the group as it helped injured passengers.

The two first aided a pregnant woman who was bleeding, another woman who was having a seizure and nearly

10 people who were vomiting.

The most difficult patient, Dalton said, was the woman having a seizure, where the best she could do is provide relief but not stop her episode.

The nurses had to be resourceful with what they had — an old stethoscope, a 20-year-old blood pressure gauge, some IV equipment and a small amount of medication.

“I guess it was just second nature to respond,” Bruck said. “It takes courage to put yourself in danger in order to care for others, but nursing can be a sacrifice and sometimes we have to hold back our own fears to promote comfort in others.”

Dalton said she was thankful she was with Bruck to help as many people as possible.

“There’s no other nurse I’d want on my side than her,” Dalton said.

Dalton and Bruck were celebrated for their efforts after the flight made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City as well as back at the Elyria hospital by their peers.

“The news has traveled through the hospital, and so many employees are proud of these two ladies,” said Lisa Osborne, nursing operations manager at the hospital. “We should be very proud of these two ladies and their commitment to help people.”

Dalton has worked for University Hospital since 1998 and said her time there has prepared her to help at any time, no matter the cost. However, she doesn’t see herself as someone who did something extraordinary.

“I mean, it’s something I would do for anybody at anytime. I’m a nurse and it’s what I do,” she said.

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