When Newark Liberty International (EWR) new hire Cecilia Morales heard people screaming for help, she knew if she didn’t act quickly the outcome was going to be grim.
A young mother picked up her two-month old son from his car carrier seat to carry him through the security checkpoint at EWR, but when the mom lifted him up, she saw that the boy wasn’t breathing.
She immediately sought assistance from her co-travelers and shouted for help when she realized her attempts at rousing her son were unsuccessful.
Morales, a trained emergency medical technician (EMT) with 10 years of experience was called to assist and shouted instructions from across the checkpoint. The mother was so nervous “I knew if I didn’t get over there, it wasn’t going to be a good outcome,” recalled Morales. “I jumped over the checkpoint conveyor belt rollers and she gave me the baby. I performed the infant Heimlich maneuver on him.”
Morales held the infant carefully to keep his airway open, then placed him face down on her arm and patted him on the back. No response. She tried again, and the second time he started to breathe again.
While the lifesaving incident played out in front of them, TSA Officers Kenneth Killian and Christina Canty-Stancil remained calm and diligently focused on their walk-through metal detector and advanced imaging technology posts, calling for assistance and keeping the checkpoint secure from breach.
“I saw the video afterward,” Morales said. “It was the first time I’ve ever seen myself in action, saving a life. It was mind-blowing to watch. I felt that my training and experience just took over.”
Morales, a Newark resident who joined TSA in late October, previously performed the Heimlich on adults and children as an EMT, but this was the first time she had performed the lifesaving technique on an infant.
“The mother was too nervous and in shock to hold her son, so I carried the infant through the walk-through metal detector,” said Morales, who waited on the other side of the checkpoint for the pediatric EMT to arrive and give the baby oxygen.
“Two months on the job and she’s literally a lifesaver,” said New Jersey Federal Security Director Thomas Carter. “Officer Morales’ quick reaction and actions helped ensure this family will have a happy holiday season. Her actions were inspiring.”
By Lisa Farbstein and Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs