TSA Officer Eugene Clingan was working as a travel document checker (TDC) at New Mexico’s Albuquerque International Sunport when he suddenly noticed what appeared to be a frantic passenger running around. He then saw another person face down on the ground.
After notifying other officers, one of whom took over as TDC, Clingan quickly left his post to help the injured woman, who apparently tripped and fell face first. Manager David Suckow said the injured woman’s special needs grandson, who she was accompanying through the checkpoint, panicked and didn’t know what to do. The young man was flying by himself, and his grandmother was taking him to the gate.
Clingan, who is an emergency first response trainer, put his expertise to good use and quickly assessed the situation.
“I could see she had a cut on her head and was bleeding,” said Clingan. “I started talking with her and applying direct pressure to her head. I let her know help was on the way, checked for further injuries and kept her calm. [Her grandson] was by her side, and I let him know that everything would be okay, we would get him to his airplane on time and not to worry.”
Suckow said other officers radioed the situation, and Supervisory Officer Treela O’Connor responded, clearing the stanchions and doing her part to try to keep the grandson calm.
“[O’Connor] talked to him about what he liked to do, where he was going, and kept him relaxed through the process,” Suckow recalled.
The young man was able to make his flight, while his grandmother was taken to the hospital to receive the medical help she needed.
“[Clingan’s] quick thinking helped calm a difficult situation, and the grandmother greatly appreciated it,” said Suckow. “He has only been with us a short time, but from the beginning, I could tell he has a good head on his shoulders. His maturity shows in the way he deals with passengers and fellow officers … I wish he could be cloned!”
Clingan encourages other officers to get emergency first response training. “One important fact is for our families,” he said. “In their time of need, it could save their life. As an officer, it is up to us to help our public. The more training we have, the better we can serve them.”