When a man on a late-night flight collapsed and lay lifeless on the floor, it was an elected member of Parliament who saved his life.
Todd Doherty was recognized this week for his swift action.
The Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year when, shortly after takeoff, he heard a loud thud.
A friend who was sitting next to Doherty on the plane turned to him, wide-eyed.
“Do you know first aid?” the friend asked.
Without stopping to think, Doherty ran to the front of the plane, where a man in the front row had collapsed onto another passenger.
“I basically flew into action. It was like a reflex, I guess,” he recalled Thursday in an interview.
Finding no pulse, Doherty began giving the man chest compressions. A few minutes later, colour began to return to his cheeks and he began to breathe. It was at that moment the MP realized he knew the man he was trying to save.
“I knew his family, I knew his wife. And that’s when you really kind of start thinking about things.”
The pilot turned the plane around and they quickly headed back to Vancouver. All the while, Doherty sat and held the man’s hand, to ensure his pulse remained strong.
When they landed, the man was immediately swept onto a stretcher, bound for the hospital. Doherty, meanwhile, had to reboard his plane to Prince George.
The politician was emotional when recalling this moment.
“That was the hardest thing to do, to leave this man who I knew was really sick and I knew his family,” he said, pausing to take a hard swallow.
“I knew he was going to be alone, so it was really hard.”
The man has since made a full recovery.
On Wednesday, Doherty was awarded the St. John Ambulance life-saving award for his actions on the flight.
He downplayed the award, however, noting he only did what first responders do every day.
“The greatest reward for me was that he was actually going to be OK and that he was going to be able to be with his family.
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press