BALTIMORE – A Transportation Security Administration officer was hailed as a hero and received a round of applause from his colleagues when he returned to his checkpoint after reviving a passenger who collapsed after suffering a heart attack at a restaurant inside Baltimore Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Supervisory TSA Officer Jonas Cohen was approached by an airport restaurant employee who spotted his blue uniform at the checkpoint. She told him that a man was ill and needed help. Cohen, a resident of Laurel, Md., rushed over and was surprised to see a man slumped over a piece of metal fencing that surrounded the restaurant.
Cohen, a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and a trained emergency medical technician, helped lay the traveler on the floor. The man was gasping for air, stopped breathing and his lips started to turn blue. Cohen raced about 75 feet to get an AED and a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer raced to bring another.
Cohen was now working with a passenger who identified herself as a doctor and another passenger who identified himself as an off-duty fire fighter.
He began chest compressions and once the AED was connected, it gave an audible instruction to shock the patient. After applying the shocks as instructed by the AED device, the victim’s heart began to beat and a pulse was detected.
Fire department officials arrived and continued to provide care. An ambulance crew was next on the scene and took the man to a local hospital. Other TSA officers assisted MTAP with crowd control.
“He had a heart rate on his way into the ambulance,” Cohen recalled. At that point he went over to the fallen man’s wife to help console her. “She was crying in disbelief. I advised her that her husband was receiving good care. Airport police told me a couple days later that the man was alive although he was still in intensive care.”
Cohen found out that the traveler was healthy enough to return home from the hospital the following week.
Last week’s incident marked the second time in Cohen’s 13 years as a TSA officer that he has used his emergency medical technician skills to bring someone back to life at an airport. He also performed CPR on a passenger who collapsed at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport in 2005. “When something like that happens right there in front of you, you resort back to your training and automatically know what to do.”
What Cohen found interesting about the episode was that it started when a restaurant employee approached him for help. “She was probably looking for a uniformed individual” and she knew she could find a TSA officer at the checkpoint, Cohen said. “People can say what they want about TSA officers, but we know that when something happens, the public looks to us to come help, and that’s what we do. That’s what I did.”
“Officer Cohen’s quick actions were heroic,” said TSA Federal Security Director Andrea R. Mishoe. “We are fortunate to have him on our team. There is no doubt that his quick response improved the traveler’s probability of surviving.”