Working a type of shift where the day is split into two or more parts is a fact of life at smaller airports where most flights originate in the early morning or late evening hours. If you are fortunate to live close to work you can go home and take care of some chores, catch a good nap or maybe get a bite to eat during your shift break. That is, if you are lucky.
On this particular day, Kodiak Airport (ADQ) Supervisory TSA Officer Sarah Webb was using her split shift break to get lunch when she passed a taxi stopped on the side of the road. “It just didn’t look right,” remembers Webb. “I turned around and went back and asked if everything was OK,” said Webb, realizing this particular area of Kodiak was notorious for having poor cell phone reception.
Her intuition being correct, Webb discovered a family in distress. A female (mother) was hunched over near the taxi. She appeared to have difficulty breathing and started to complain of chest pain. The husband said he thought his wife was having some kind of allergic reaction. Leaving nothing to chance, Webb offered her EPI (epinephrine auto-injection) pen and a four mile ride to Providence Kodiak hospital, since the taxi driver seemed reluctant to assist them.
Once she got good cell reception, Webb called 911 and said she was en route to the hospital with an ill passenger and asked to have someone from the ER meet her and the stricken woman.
Later that afternoon, Webb saw the woman’s sons when they were going through security. The boys stopped and explained what happened after Webb drove their mother to the ER.
Their mom was airlifted via Alaska Life Med to Providence Hospital in Anchorage and treated for a myocardial infarction. The doctors explained had she not arrived so quickly, the medication she needed to survive would not have not been administered in time to save her.
“I was overwhelmed when I saw the boys at the checkpoint,” recalls Webb. “The boys said that their mom was far more comfortable riding with me than the taxi and thanked me for stopping to help.” And with a fist bump from one and a hug from the other, the boys were gone.
“I had to step away from the checkpoint after the interaction with the boys,” said Webb.
“I was glad to find out their mom was going to be OK, but I needed a moment to breathe and compose myself.”
Anchorage Federal Security Director Pete Duffy sums it up nicely, saying “Amazing and inspiring action today! You likely saved this woman’s life. Incredible! Proud to serve with you.”
By Wayne Carey, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs