Curbside walk to checkpoint proves fateful for TSA officer

Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Pittsburgh International Airport TSA Officer and good Samaritan Jason Kelvington at the advanced imaging technology station.   (Photo courtesy of TSA PIT)

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) TSA Officer Jason Kelvington was heading back to his post after the last break of his overnight shift, preparing for the flood of passengers he would assist through the alternate checkpoint entrance outside.

On his way, he stopped at the curbside to chat with two colleagues who were talking with an elderly couple. His co-workers departed while Kelvington lingered a bit more, just long enough to learn about the wife’s career in corrections and that the couple was departing for Mexico that morning. He assured the pair he would assist them through the busy checkpoint as he pointed them in the proper direction.                                                                                             

“As we started to walk toward the crosswalk to the tunnel on the way to the alternate, he (the male passenger) stated he didn’t feel well,” recalled Kelvington. “I was leading the way at the time and turned around to see he was pale and his eyes rolled back and he went limp, falling face first toward the street. I was able to get both my arms out to catch him under his armpits as he was completely unconscious. I slowly lowered him to the ground and asked his wife to support his head as I laid him down on the concrete. She was distraught as this was occurring but helped me with questions about him that could lead to why this happened.”

Pittsburgh International Airport TSA Officer Jason Kelvington performs X-ray duties.  (Photo courtesy of TSA PIT)
Pittsburgh International Airport TSA Officer Jason Kelvington performs X-ray duties. (Photo courtesy of TSA PIT)

Kelvington called the checkpoint for police and 911 for medical assistance and was happy when the man regained consciousness before emergency responders arrived to take his vitals and an EKG.

“During this time, I talked to the wife, keeping her calm and reassuring her it would be okay,” said Kelvington.

The couple chose to fly against the advice of the EMTs, so Kelvington, true to his word, assisted them through checkpoint screening and to their flight, which by now was a very tight connection.

“They thanked me continuously afterward, and I was grateful I was there at the right time,” said Kelvington. “If not, he may have suffered some serious injuries going face first into the street.”

Kelvington has not heard from the couple, whose names he never did learn, or get an update about health of the man. All the same, this 20-year TSA veteran was there to intervene at a fateful moment.

And it’s not the first time he’s stepped up to help a sick passenger.

“Several years ago Jason actually discovered a passenger that had overdosed in a men’s room stall and passed out on the floor,” said PIT TSA Manager Ron Johnston.

Johnston had the privilege of serving in uniform alongside Kelvington and characterizes him as helpful, energetic and smart.

“Recently, before this incident, he volunteered to help the safety action team clean the checkpoint up in addition to his extra duties during his shift,” said Johnston. “To date I have nothing but good things to say about Jason, and I personally enjoy working with him when the opportunity presents itself. We are lucky to have Jason here at PIT.”

Leadership has nominated Kelvington to the Joint Award Committee for recognition in coming to the aid of a passenger in medical distress.

By Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs