For the second time in just a month, TSA officers in Miami came to the rescue of a passenger facing a life-threatening emergency at a security checkpoint.
Just weeks after Officer Roberto Gonzalez saved a man’s life at Miami International Airport (MIA) by administering CPR, Lead TSA Officers Shanquita Auguste and Zachary Leighton found themselves in a similar lifesaving situation.
A young man was collecting his belongings from the X-ray belt in MIA’s Checkpoint 2 when he reached into his carry-on for what appeared to be medication. Suddenly, he collapsed, losing consciousness.
Auguste was just starting her shift while Leighton worked overtime that day. Both quickly came together to help after seeing the passenger go down.
“I felt several emotions in that moment,” Auguste recalled. “I was scared he may die.”
When Leighton saw the unresponsive passenger turn blue, he quickly began performing CPR. Auguste positioned the passenger to keep his airway open. Another passenger, who was in the medical field, also jumped in to help.
“I got sad when I thought he may never see his family again,” said Auguste. “I was nervous that tilting his head wasn’t helping.”
Several minutes later, Miami-Dade police officers arrived on the scene. The passenger regained consciousness but seemed disoriented. Police kept him calm until fire rescue personnel arrived and began treating the man before transporting him to a nearby hospital.
“I got excited when his color returned, and I felt a pulse,” Auguste said. “When he regained consciousness, I was happy, excited and relieved he got another chance.”
Auguste has no formal CPR or emergency training and had never been in a situation like this.
MIA TSA Assistant Federal Security Director Adam Ostrowsky and Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director John Brehm happened to walk into the checkpoint when the incident took place, and both were impressed by the heroic actions of Leighton and Auguste.
“If Lead Officers Leighton and Auguste had not responded as quickly as they did, the passenger may not have survived,” said Ostrowsky. “Officers like Zachary Leighton and Shanquita Auguste embody TSA’s core values and are sincerely committed to our mission and the traveling public.”
For their heroism, Leighton and Auguste were honored with TSA coins.
“I am thankful and grateful for the acknowledgment from leadership,” said Auguste, who has a message for others who find themselves in a similar situation. “I recommend others at least try to get CPR-certified or try to get help for the distressed person as soon as possible.”
By Ana Valdes, TSA Miami International Airport, and Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs