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Sunnyvale DPS Officer Saves Passenger on Flight from Ireland

He’s being hailed a hero, but Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer Stephen Cronin says it was really just what he was trained for.

“This is kind of overwhelming. I didn’t think it was all that special,” said officer Cronin. “Someone had written the department that was on the plane and it kind of snowballed from there.”

In August, Cronin and his wife had traveled to Ireland for what he calls a “bucket list trip.” Less than 24-hours in, his wife broke her pelvis and they were forced to fly home early.

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“From the little bit that we did see of the country, it seemed like a very beautiful place and a good time to visit. Unfortunately, it was not a good place to get injured and try to get home,” said Cronin.

Cronin was worried about his wife flying so soon after the injury, but it didn’t stop him from answering the call when another passenger needed his help.

“About six and a half hours into the flight I hear a big thump; a thud. A gentleman had yelled, ‘Is there any medical personnel on the plane?’” said Cronin. “I kind of jumped up; kind of figured there was something pretty serious.”

“There was a woman down on the ground,” continued Cronin. “She was just pale white, diaphoretic, really sweaty and she was unconscious and she was bleeding from the back of her head.”

A retired Marin County firefighter and a German rheumatologist were also on the flight. They and Cronin worked together to help the woman.

“Over the next three and a half hours, her initial vital signs were very poor and it stabilized out,” said Cronin. “We ended up leaving her on the floor because she didn’t feel comfortable sitting up.”

When the plane landed at San Francisco International Airport, the woman was placed in the care of San Francisco paramedics. Cronin says, while the woman seemed to be recovering when he left, he’s not sure what her condition is today.

“For the most part, even people we treat here at work, very rarely [do you] get updates on the condition of the patient,” said Cronin. “She definitely was showing much better signs. She was able to talk to us further on into the flight.”

Cronin has worked with Sunnyvale DPS for 13 years. He comes from a family of police officers and his wife comes from a family of firefighters so Sunnyvale seemed like the perfect fit for him.

“It’s the best job on earth. I’m really, really lucky,” said Cronin. “I could see the benefits of both occupations and set my goal to get hired with Sunnyvale and was fortunate enough to get hired in 2007.”

Cronin’s wife is still recovering from her pelvis injury, but is back at work and isn’t expected to see any long-term effects. Cronin says a return to Ireland will happen someday. His grandfather was born in Cork in Southern Ireland and he’d love to see it someday.

“I guess Cronin is a pretty common last name [in Ireland], so I guess there’s a lot of pubs and stuff there that say Cronin’s Pub. I thought would be kind of neat because you don’t run into too many Cronin’s in the states,” said Cronin with a laugh.

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