University of Otago medical student and Miss Universe New
Zealand finalist Deborah Lambie, of Dunedin, in Auckland
with Alex Reid, of Kerikeri. Photo supplied.
High drama at high altitude has seen a Dunedin beauty
pageant contestant help save a man's life.
Miss Universe New Zealand finalist and fourth-year Otago
medical student Deborah Lambie rushed to assist a fellow
passenger on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Auckland
She was sitting across the aisle from retired Kerikeri
teacher Alex Reid when he fainted in his seat. Miss Lambie
(22) was the first person with any medical training to assist
''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 breathing, and
monitored his condition until a doctor sitting in the back of
the plane came to help.
She was relieved to hear a senior doctor was 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 OK and there was a good
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.
The incident occurred at about 36,000ft, but 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 and alerted a flight attendant to the
medical emergency, said Miss Lambie was unfazed by the
''Well, Deborah certainly followed our slogan `Keep Calm and
Wear a Tiara','' he said.
''One of our major aims was to break the long-held stereotype
that girls who enter competitions like this are bimbos,'' Mr
''If this incident doesn't prove that [they are not], then I
don't know what will.''
Miss Lambie said she responded to the emergency as any
medical professional should.
''One thing you are taught at medical school is that in a
situation like this you simply can't stand back. You have to
go in, as it could mean the difference between life and
She and other Miss Universe New Zealand finalists, including
Henali Patel, of Dunedin, and Kristie Leonard, of Balclutha,
went to Thailand as part of the competition.
The 20 finalists had their bikini photos taken while overseas
and also appeared on Thai television.
They were accompanied by Thailand's ambassador to New
Zealand, Noppadon Theppitak, who will be a guest of honour at
the competition final at Sky City in Auckland on October 5.
Mr Reid and his partner, as well as Dr Moonesinghe, have also
been invited as guests to the event, which will be broadcast
live on television.
The winner will eventually travel to Moscow for the Miss