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TSA Inspector at Newark Gives Breath of Life Back to Dying Passenger

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TSI Robert Kennish’s EMT training and quick actions helped to revive a passenger in distress.
TSI Robert Kennish’s EMT training and quick actions helped to revive a passenger in distress. Photo by Anita Daino

As TSA Security Inspector Robert Kennish prepared to inspect an airplane earlier this week in Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport, he spotted an elderly woman on the jetway floor. An anxious airline customer service agent told him that the passenger had just collapsed and did not appear to be breathing.

Kennish attempted to get the fallen woman to respond and quickly came to the same conclusion – the woman was not breathing. He checked for a pulse, and when he got nothing, Kennish immediately started compression CPR.

Two passengers – an ophthalmologist and a nurse – came forward to assist when a flight attendant brought an AED from the aircraft. The ophthalmologist administered the AED and Kennish again resumed CPR.

“Within seconds, I was able to feel a distal post in her left arm,” he said. “The nurse was able to get a pulse. A flight attendant also provided us with oxygen from the aircraft. Once the oxygen was running, I placed the mask onto the woman to assist with her breathing.”

A short time later, paramedics transported the woman and her husband to a local hospital.

“The woman left the jet bridge breathing and the paramedics said that she would live,” Kennish said. “It was intense.” He said that it was a group effort to revive the woman.

“TSI Kennish demonstrated amazing personal courage and skill in emergency response,” said Federal Security Director Don Drummer. “In all likelihood, Rob’s decisive actions saved this passenger’s life.”

A trained Emergency Medical Technician, Kennish had performed CPR in the past, but never before with the positive results he saw yesterday. As a former Federal Air Marshal, he also underwent training in life-saving techniques that contributed to his understanding of the immediate actions required to help save a life.

By Lisa Farbstein, Office of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs

Latest revision: 29 April 2013