Seattle, WA -- A critical-care nurse aboard an air ambulance fought to keep from being sucked out of the cabin when a window blew out of the aircraft at 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) while the plane was flying a patient to Seattle.
"I guess it wasn't my day to die," said Chris Fogg, who lives near Boise, Idaho, and was flying with a patient and the pilot last Wednesday from Twin Falls, Idaho, to Seattle. "For anyone else, I think he would have been sucked completely out, but for some reason I was spared, and I don't know why."
Fogg's head and right arm were pulled outside the window, and he suffered cuts to his head. Some equipment, charts, his eye glasses and packages went flying out of the cabin.
The rapid decompression occurred when Fogg was unbuckled from his seat and reaching for a water bottle.
Fogg, 41, is 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall and weighs 220 pounds (100 kilograms). He said his size may have helped him avoid being sucked out of the twin-engine turboprop plane. meters)
"My left hand was on the ceiling and was holding me in, and my knees were up against the wall," Fogg told The Seattle Times in a story published Monday. He said he pushed as hard as he could and got enough air between his chest and the window to break the suction and pull himself back inside the aircraft.
"I have a vivid picture of looking at the tail of the plane and seeing my headset dangling out of the plane," Fogg said.
He fell back into his seat, and grabbed one of the patient's pillows to stop the blood pouring from his head. He said the pilot knew the cabin had decompressed but was not aware of the broken window, so he put the airplane into a dive to a safe altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).
"I kept saying, 'Don't pass out, don't pass out, I have a patient on board and I have to take care of the patient,'" he told the newspaper.
Fogg said the patient, who saw the whole thing, was not in danger because he was on oxygen. But the man was a Vietnam veteran and told Fogg he had flashbacks of being shot out of the air.
The pilot made an emergency landing in Boise, and Fogg was rushed to the hospital, where he needed 13 stitches in his head.
Fogg has worked for 24 years for the Ada-Boi air ambulance service, which his father owns. The next day he was back at work.
"It was pretty scary, I'll tell you that," Fogg said.
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No common cause for the incidents has been found so far.
FAA says moving Boise's air traffic system to Salt Lake City will save $2.5 million over 25 years.