Gateshead father meets ‘hero nurse’ who helped save his life on Easyjet plane

This is the emotional moment a father met the ‘hero nurse’ who helped save his life when he fell ill on a plane.

Steve Skoyles, 65, suffered symptoms of a heart attack while traveling on an Easyjet flight from Alicante in Spain to Newcastle Airport.




Stranger David Armstrong, who was also traveling as a passenger on the plane, provided Steve with oxygen and told the crew to divert the plane so he could receive immediate medical attention.

The plane was diverted to Nantes Atlantique Airport in France and paramedics met Steve at the end of the runway. They rushed him to the hospital where he underwent surgery and spent five days in intensive care.

After returning to the UK, Steve managed to get in touch with David, from Annitsford, North Tyneside, through a Facebook group. They met Thursday so Steve could personally thank David.

Retired quantitative surveyor Steve, from Ryton, Gateshead, said: “I was over the moon to see him, I really was. It was one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever had in my life. It was very difficult to put it down to keep each other together but I just managed it.


“If I had gone my own way on that plane and continued on to Newcastle, I would have died on the flight. That’s what I was told by two separate people: David and a doctor at the hospital.

“He obviously saved my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here right now. David is ashamed of being called a ‘hero’, but that’s exactly what he is. I owe my life thank him.”

Steve Skoyles (right) meets his “hero” David Armstrong (left)(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

David, associate professor of nursing at Northumbria University, said seeing Steve make a full recovery was the best gift you could receive.

The qualified critical care nurse said: “It was really nice to meet him and his partner and to hear from his potential client what happened after I left him on the plane.

“He had a great time, he was in the hospital for five days. He had to go straight to the theater. He was so grateful, but I just did what anyone would do when they were there! I was ready to meet him and learn that he was okay in the end.”

Steve had spent a week in Albir, Spain, with his partner Debbie Stringer, 62, his daughter Victoria Pearson, 33, and her husband Dan Pearson, 37. He fell ill on the return flight to Newcastle on April 30.

He said: “We had a wonderful holiday, we had a great week together. I got on the plane and started to feel unwell. After that I became increasingly out of breath.

“I had a heart attack before, so I started to understand what was going on. I initially told Debbie that I wasn’t feeling well. The stewards answered the phone and asked if there was a doctor on board.

“There was no doctor, but there was David, an intensive care nurse. He came and helped me and I argued with him and said I just wanted to fly back to Newcastle.

“I had a good idea something was wrong, but I didn’t want to worry people. The flight was already two hours late and they were going to be late for another few hours. I just felt a bit terrible for everyone at the flight.” flight.

“He took the decision out of my hands and we were diverted to Nantes in France. I was taken off the plane and taken straight to hospital. Victoria came with me and Debbie and Dan followed.

“I was taken straight to the operating room and they discovered that one of my stents was almost completely blocked. They cleared the stent so it is now working again. I am now waiting for the cardiologists here as they said it would happen again.”

David Armstrong (left) looked after Steve Skoyles (right) during an Easyjet flight(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

David, who was also commander of the 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment within the British Army had returned from a two-week break in the Benissa region of Spain with his wife Debra, 58.

The grandfather said his wife warned him that Steve, who was sitting two or three rows in front of them, looked sick. He said: “He complained of pain up his left arm and up to his jaw, which are classic symptoms of a heart attack.”

David began treating David before asking the flight crew to divert the aircraft as quickly as possible. He said: ‘I advised them that paramedics should be waiting.

“My concern was that he would go into full cardiac arrest. I could tell the guy was deteriorating and he might have gone into cardiac arrest. That’s why I had to get the plane on the ground.

“The ambulance was waiting at the end of the runway under a police escort. We handed the gentleman over to the ambulance staff.”

When David returned to his seat, he received a round of applause from those on board.

Steve saw that David had shared his experiences with Chronicle Live and saw that he was from Annitsford. He posted on the Annitsford Residents Facebook page and managed to contact him.

He said: “It was David’s neighbor who saw the message and told him. He messaged me back. I then asked if he would be willing to meet me so I could thank him personally and that’s what I did .”

Debbie, who has her own cleaning company, joined Steve at the meeting and they spent about an hour and a half together at the Coltello Lounge in Cramlington, Northumberland.

Debbie said: “I burst into tears when I saw him. It was really emotional to see them hugging and thanking Steve, it was beautiful. I just can’t thank him enough. We owe him so much.


“It was a terrible situation to be in. At first I thought Steve was just having a panic attack. It was the lady sitting next to me on the plane who realized it was something more serious – that’s when everything started to pick up. We were moved to the front of the plane and David was just absolutely wonderful. He tried to talk to Steve, to reassure me and to talk to Victoria because she was in pieces.

“He just can’t accept that he’s a hero because of what he did. He keeps saying, ‘Anyone would have done it,’ but the way I look at it, I don’t think just anyone would have done it. A lot of people want not getting involved in health and safety.


“I would like to thank everyone who was on the flight for their patience, they were absolutely brilliant.”

Steve added: “It was absolutely fantastic meeting him to say thank you. I was very grateful and it was very emotional to meet him. It was nice that Debbie could be with me, because she was clearly on the flight with me. definitely keep in touch with him.”

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