Coffee break ends abruptly as Orlando TSA officer saves passenger’s life

Monday, December 14, 2020
Officer at x-ray machine photo

It wasn’t the kind of coffee break TSA Officer Kenneth Ordenana anticipated.

“It’s around 5:30 a.m. at Orlando International Airport (MCO), and I’m drinking coffee on my break,” said Ordenana, “when the airport cleaning staff told me there was an unconscious individual laying in the bathroom.”

Ordenana said it’s not unusual for passengers to ask him routine questions while on break, such as “Where’s the ticket counter?” or “Where’s the checkpoint?” But when he learned about the unresponsive male passenger, “My initial reaction was shock,” he said. “Is this really happening? One-hundred thoughts raced through my mind not knowing what to expect while I was heading to the bathroom ready to dial 911 with my phone already in hand.”

Officer Ordenana photo
Orlando International Airport TSA Officer Kenneth Ordenana. (Photo courtesy of TSA MCO)

When Ordenana got to the restroom, the man wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, so Ordenana immediately started CPR while on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. The first thing he remembered from his CPR training was to check the scene and the individual and check for signs of life.

A Delta Air Lines employee, who was a certified first responder, joined Ordenana and worked together to revive the man, although Ordenana admitted it was an extremely stressful situation.

“Life is precious,” Ordenana said. “Although I do not know this man, never met this man before, I had tremendous compassion and empathy for him. The only thing on my mind was I wanted him to get through this and for him to live.”

The Delta employee’s help gave Ordenana a huge sense of hope and relief. “A sense of relief because I haven’t renewed my [CPR] certification, and I was with someone who was up-to-date with their CPR certification,” he noted.

They continued CPR for more than 10 minutes until paramedics arrived. When the medics took the man to the hospital, he had a pulse and was breathing on his own.

“The man would not have made it the 10 minutes it took for additional help to arrive without [Officer] Ordenana’s actions,” said Orlando Deputy Federal Security Director Greg Hawko. “We are proud he is a member of Team MCO. His quick thinking and care of others, especially during the current environment of distancing, saved a man’s life.”

A humble Ordenana said it was truly a team effort – from the custodian discovering the man to Ordenana communicating to the 911 dispatcher to administering CPR to updating medics the moment they arrived.

“Every single minute counted,” he proclaimed. “I am just grateful I was in the right place at the right time to do something about it alongside the Delta employee.”

For anyone placed in a situation to help others, Ordenana has a special message.

“A single act of kindness throws roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees,” he said. “We don’t know what troubles others are going through in this chaotic world; it is also called being human. Whether it’s family, financial, personal or health, it’s important to be kind to one another more than ever because we do have a choice – a choice on how to treat others. A single and simple act of kindness can make someone’s day and the power to change someone’s life. So, choose kindness.”