Nursing Hero Helps Save a Life in the Sky

Lori Palmieri

National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6-12 each year, culminates on the birthdate of Florence Nightingale, born May 12, 1820, who is considered the founder of modern nursing.

These past two years of devastating illness and loss of life during a worldwide pandemic have brought tremendous attention to the selfless work and dedication of those in the nursing profession. Nurse heroes, as we celebrate them today, along with other healthcare heroes on the front lines of this health crisis are deserving of this recognition as they risk their own health and lives to care for and support those in need.

At Bloomfield College, we have a number of nurse heroes as well, including our own Professor of Nursing Lori Ann Palmieri, MSN, RN who recently helped save a life while on a flight to Arizona. A 28-year-old woman had started having seizure-like activity and went into cardiac arrest. Palmieri rushed over and helped transfer the woman from her seat to the aisle floor, checking her carotid pulse while a cardiologist who was on board checked her femoral pulse. As the young woman turned blue, the team of healthcare professionals began CPR.

“We continued CPR for about 90 seconds, still without a pulse. As we alternated on chest compressions, the cardiologist and I set up the automated external defibrillator (AED) that had been brought over to us. As I was doing chest compressions, she suddenly started to move and opened her eyes, so a shock was not advised by the AED,” said Palmieri. “It was a miracle because less than five percent of CPR done outside of a hospital ends in the survival of the individual. She was very lucky that she had two healthcare professionals on the plane who were able to tradeoff between operating the AED and giving CPR.”

According to Palmieri, the pilot of the American Airlines plane made an emergency landing in Oklahoma City where EMTs were at the ready to greet the woman whose subsequent diagnosis was spontaneous cardiac arrest of unknown origin. A couple of weeks later the cardiologist and the young woman, named Brittany, appeared on the Today Show to share the story and advocated that everyone should learn CPR.

“I was disappointed about not having been a part of sharing the story on a national scale, but I see it as a lesson that we need to advocate for our nursing profession. As nurses, we are sometimes seen as ancillary, conducting our work in the background, and we often don’t get the credit we might deserve. I guess this was one of those cases, but I am so grateful to have been at the right place at the right time to help save a life,” she said.

For her heroism in the sky, American Airlines gave Palmieri 25,000 miles and a letter of appreciation.

Palmieri, who recently defended her dissertation proposal, teaches in the undergraduate BSN program and the RN to BSN program in the College’s Frances M. McLaughlin Division of Nursing.

The Bloomfield College nursing program is named in U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best College's rankings as no. 7 in New Jersey in the publisher’s first-ever Undergraduate Nursing Programs category. The College is also recognized by Nursing Schools Almanac as the no. 4 prelicensure BSN program in New Jersey. And, ranks Bloomfield College as no. 9 out of 46 New Jersey higher education institutions in its ranking of the “Best Nursing Program in New Jersey” as well as the no. 4 “Best RN to BSN Program” in the state.

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