IT is every flight attendant's nightmare - a passenger has a heart attack in mid-air and no doctor is on board the plane. That nightmare became a reality for five Cathay Pacific staff who were yesterday honoured for saving a female passenger's life on June 9 this year. A combined 40 years' experience in the air did not prepare Miranda Kaur, Jennifer Stanislaus, Nan Wattanaprakornk, Irene Chee and Fonteyn Cheong for what happened while flying between Bangkok and Hong Kong. Miss Kaur, a senior purser, said that a 30-year-old Thai woman complained of chest pains and a headache about an hour into the two-hour flight. The woman started to slip in and out of consciousness but recovered enough after two pain killers to eat a meal. About half an hour later, as the plane was beginning its descent, the woman lost consciousness again and required emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation from the crew. Cabin crew used their first-aid training, which is reviewed every year, to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage. ''We made two announcements for doctors on board but it was really unusual there was none on this flight,'' Miss Kaur said. ''Usually you get two doctors or maybe a nurse. ''It is the worst thing that can happen. It is different when you are in the air, when you are on the ground you know you can get a doctor quickly.'' Miss Kaur said they saved the woman's life and radioed ahead for a doctor to meet the plane when it landed in Hong Kong. She praised other passengers who offered help and responded with a barrage of pillows when asked for assistance. ''It is human nature. Passengers are really good and are usually not bothered to be inconvenienced,'' she said. Cathay Pacific yesterday rewarded 23 staff for excellence with a plaque and world atlas.