Alert Virginia TSA officers help save pilot's life

Monday, April 24, 2023
With the help of TSA Officer Nigel Allen, first responders work to revive an airline pilot who collapsed at Richmond International Airport (RIC). (Photo courtesy of TSA RIC)

Two TSA officers were in the middle of a security operation at Virginia’s Richmond International Airport (RIC) when they quickly jumped into action after seeing an airline pilot suddenly collapse.

The pilot suffered cardiac arrest.

Officer Nigel Allen and Lead Officer Trenard Collier ran to help save the pilot’s life.

“Trenard saw the pilot on the other side of the atrium,” Allen recalled, “and told me, ‘I think that guy is about to pass out.’ I looked over just as the pilot fell to the floor.”

The pilot approached a railing, staggered, and toppled over his roller bags, passing out. Allen sprinted to the pilot’s side, called for assistance, and began performing first aid.

Police and firefighters arrived, and while they performed CPR, Allen continued assisting the pilot and first responders.

The emergency escalated when the pilot’s heart stopped beating, requiring extended medical intervention. At this point, Allen sprinted down the hall to retrieve an automated external defibrillator.

Allen’s swift action directly led to the pilot’s revival and saving his life.

Richmond International Airport TSA Officer Nigel Allen (Photo courtesy of TSA RIC)
Richmond International Airport TSA Officer Nigel Allen (Photo courtesy of TSA RIC)

As medical attention continued, Allen and Collier cleared the area to give police and fire responders the necessary room to further attend to the pilot. As responders continued treatment, Allen retrieved the pilot’s luggage and quickly carried it to the TSA checkpoint. There, he screened the luggage to ensure the pilot was not a Federal Flight Deck Officer and possibly carrying law enforcement equipment, which would need to be secured.

Virginia TSA Federal Security Director Chuck Burke applauded Allen for his decisive efforts.

“(Officer) Allen’s actions displayed conspicuous initiative, capability, and above and beyond service to the community he serves,” said Burke. “His actions clearly contributed to saving the pilot’s life. The RIC Airport Police Department and stakeholders at RIC commended (Officer) Allen for his quick response in being the first to administer initial first aid.”

“I’m proud to work side by side with the workforce at RIC who display caring and professionalism, such as (Officer) Allen, on a daily basis,” Burke added.

The pilot is recovering, and his family has expressed their deepest appreciation for Allen’s assistance and all involved.

Allen has served TSA in Richmond for four years and is currently a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he is completing his degree in information systems.

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs