Off-duty Alameda County firefighter saves overdose victim on international flight

As an Alameda County firefighter-paramedic for Alameda County Fire, Eddie Pastora has saved people's lives countless times. But his heroic efforts last Thursday were unlike any he's faced before.

"Another 30 minutes he would have passed away on the plane," Pastora said.

Pastora was returning home from vacation on a flight from Cancun, Mexico to SFO when he heard there was a problem. A passenger had passed out. Pastora  went to  work

"His skin was really gray. He was sweaty and cold. His pupils were really small. He wasn't breathing. I recognized the symptoms as a narcotic overdose," he said.

That passenger had apparently mixed an opioid pill with alcohol.

Pastora and some nurses who were on board created an airway and got him breathing. And they started an I-V.

Then he used United Airlines' Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an overdose.

Pastora says he's used it at least a hundred times before.

But the man needed two doses. United had only one. Still, his condition improved. But Pastora told the pilot he needed to land as soon as possible.

A half-hour later the plane touched down in Houston. Firefighters there boarded the plane and gave the passenger that second dose of Narcan. He went from unconscious to responsive.

Pastora has also gotten some applause from his fellow firefighters at the Castro Valley Fire station where he's based.

"We're very proud of him. He let the story out casually like it was no big deal," said Battalion Chief Kent Carlin.

"I'm not just a firefighter when I'm at work. I am a firefighter 24/7, 365 days a year. So when someone needs my help I am there for them," said Pastora.

Pastora says if he could, he would tell that passenger simply this: "Enjoy the rest of your life."