Two TSA officers saved the life of a passenger at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by taking turns performing CPR and reviving a man who stopped breathing.
It started out like any other day at LAX. Some passengers were rushing to catch flights, while others stood in line to get food or surfed the internet on their cellphones.
Natalie Bracamontes was on her lunch break, sitting on a bench across from a restaurant at Terminal 7, when she suddenly noticed something terribly wrong. Two seats away from her was a middle-aged man who desperately needed help.
“His eyes were rolling back and his mouth was wide open,” said Bracamontes, who instantly told her teammate, Dexter Slusher, that the passenger wasn’t breathing. “I looked over and saw Dexter and told him, ‘Hey, I think this guy is having a heart attack.’”
Bracamontes called 911.
Besides having trouble breathing, Slusher said the man looked pale. “The passenger stated his arms were numb,” Slusher said. “His female companion was becoming frantic.”
They rushed over to the man, who became unresponsive as his eyes closed.
“The 911 operator asked me if the guy was breathing, and I said, ‘No,’” Bracamontes said. “I told the operator his face was turning yellow and his whole body was stiffening.”
Meanwhile, Slusher sprang into action and immediately began CPR. He and Bracamontes took turns performing compressions.
The dispatcher asked if a defibrillator was available. Bracamontes shouted for someone to get one, and a United Airlines employee brought the electronic device to the scene.
Slusher and Bracamontes didn’t hesitate, placing defibrillator patches on the passenger’s chest and side based on the 911 operator’s instructions. A passenger who was a registered nurse arrived, checked the man’s pulse and pushed the shock button on the defibrillator.
“The passenger started gasping for air,” Slusher said.
Bracamontes asked the man his name and where he was. “The guy was responding to me,” she recalled. Moments later, emergency personnel arrived and took the passenger to the hospital.
Slusher wants people to know how important it is to be trained in CPR. “I would tell my fellow officers to get CPR certified because you never know when you’ll need it.”
Slusher and Bracamontes went above and beyond the call of duty to save a life.
Their prompt actions, trust in their instincts, and teamwork enabled the passenger to regain consciousness, and for that, they are true heroes.