A beauty pageant contestant helped save a man's life in a drama at high altitude.
Miss Universe NZ finalist and fourth-year Otago medical student Deborah Lambie rushed to the aid of a fellow passenger on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Auckland this week.
She was sitting across the aisle from retired Kerikeri teacher Alex Reid when he fainted in his seat and lost consciousness.
Miss Lambie, 22, put her medical knowledge to use and was the first person with any training to assist him.
"He had completely lost consciousness and was drenched in sweat, and the people sitting next to him were panicking and screaming out for help.
"It was quite frightening and I thought although I'm not finished my study, I might be more help than someone who doesn't know anything about medicine," she said.
Miss Lambie checked Mr Reid's pulse and his breathing, and monitored his condition until a qualified doctor sitting in the back of the plane came to help.
She was relieved a senior medical practitioner was also on the flight. "For a while, I thought something really bad was going to happen and I was the only person with any medical training on board. It was a 12-hour flight and we were about three hours in, so I'm just really pleased he was okay and there was a good outcome."
Otahuhu doctor Sameera Moonesinghe, who helped revive Mr Reid with Miss Lambie's help, said the situation was serious.
"He [Mr Reid] was slipping in and out of consciousness and was incoherent and unresponsive." Dr Moonesinghe said people could die if they fainted while seated and did not receive help.
By the time the flight landed in Auckland on Wednesday, Mr Reid was fine. He was grateful to Dr Moonesinghe and Miss Lambie. "I'm back to full health," Mr Reid said yesterday.
Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey, who was also on board, said Miss Lambie was unfazed by the commotion.
"One of our major aims was to break the long-held stereotype that girls who enter competitions like this are bimbos. If this incident doesn't prove that, then I don't know what will."
Miss Lambie said she responded to the emergency as any medical professional would. "One thing you are taught at medical school is that in a situation like this you simply can't stand back."
She and other Miss Universe New Zealand finalists went to Thailand as part of the competition.
The final will be at SkyCity in Auckland on October 5. The winner will travel to Moscow for the Miss Universe contest.