Florencio “Flo” Espinosa Jr. has been through a lot this October, said his wife, Jlyn.
“He was just discharged again, from another hospital visit after having to deal with other health issues,” Jlyn said. “Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and the Automated External Defibrillator saved my husband’s life. If the first responders didn’t know what to do, and that AED machine was not in the waiting area, my husband would not have been alive today.”
Flo is the 54th survivor from the Hawai‘i State Airports system, said Kim Williams, assistant airport program specialist for the AED Institute of America.
“Because of the quick actions of our Lihu‘e Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, and the care received by EMS, the Wilcox Health and Pali Momi Hospital, Flo is the 54th survivor,” Williams said. “We were able to reach out to Pali Momi hospital and share Flo’s electrocardiogram from the AED first used on him. Pam Foster was able to speak to Flo once we knew he was out of the Intensive Care Unit, and on his way to recovery. What a miracle!”
Flo’s journey started on Sept. 21, when he and his wife were waiting to board a plane at the Lihu‘e Airport.
“Flo had been experiencing rapid heartbeats where he had to catch his breath,” said Jlyn. “That was the reason we were on our way to O‘ahu. He had an appointment with the cardiologist at Straub Medical Center. At first, I gave him time to catch his breath but noticed his breathing was getting deeper, and I felt like he was drifting off. I tried to talk to him to get him to respond to my voice, but he seemed distant. That’s when I realized that this was different. I was trying to figure out what happened, and I ran to the counter to alert Southwest Airlines personnel to call for help.”
Flo was taken away from the Lihu‘e Airport by responding American Medical Response to the Wilcox Health, and eventually, medivaced to Pali Momi, leaving Jlyn at the airport to tend to her baggage.
“I was just relaxing with my wife, waiting for our flight to board,” Flo said. “No, there were no signs of a cardiac arrest at all. When I woke up, I was in the Intensive Care Unit and had all the nurses working on me. I was sedated, and they had to tell me what happened. I didn’t know anything. The last thing I knew was being at the airport.”
Jlyn said the first people on the scene were the Securitas’ Armalin Richardson and Kaleo Perez.
“They were a big help and supported me and my husband until the first responders arrived,” she said. “I am so very thankful for the first responders. They saved my husband’s life. They even had Pam Foster find out how he was doing on O‘ahu, and they wanted to meet him at the airport when we returned.”
Williams said after Flo was taken away, Jlyn was left at the airport trying to figure out what to do next.
“She shared with me that the Southwest Airlines manager Amanda Sullivan immediately assured her that they would take care of her bags and get them anywhere she needed them to go,” Williams said. “The Securitas officer Kaleo, who was there for the entire event, took Jlyn to the hospital, and I believe gave her a ride back to the airport later that day.”
Once it was decided that Flo was to be transported to Honolulu, Jlyn tried to find the next available flight to O‘ahu so she could be there with him, Williams said.
“I couldn’t ride with him on the Air Ambulance so I could get a flight on Southwest,” Jlyn said. “I went to Pali Momi, and at first, they said ‘no visitors.’ But prior to going, I asked the Emergency Room nurse to make sure I was allowed to go in. Due to the fact that he was critical, they allowed me to stay in his hospital room until 7 p.m. that night.
“Every day would be different regarding my visitations,” Jlyn said. “I would only be allowed to go if he was critical. Thankfully, the next day, he was stable and I was able to do zoom calls, and eventually, phone calls once he was able to talk. The doctor also called me with updates.”
“Again, Southwest Airlines managers assisted her in getting on the very next flight,” Williams said. “They alerted the Honolulu managers, Toni Wilson and Rob Lee, of her arrival. The Honolulu Southwest managers offered her a ride to the hospital, and arranged that her bags be taken to the hotel where she would be staying.”
The same managers picked up Flo and Jlyn from their hotel when they were ready to return to Kaua‘i on Oct. 3, she said.
“To say that Southwest Airlines went above and beyond the call of duty would be an understatement,” Williams said.