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Newark TSA Screener Administers CPR, Helps Save Dying Passenger

TSA Screener Robert Kennish: It Was Intense
Robert Kennish (Credit: TSA)

Robert Kennish (Credit: TSA)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Transportation Security Administration inspector at Newark Liberty International Airport is being hailed a hero.

Robert Kennish was working at Terminal A at Newark Airport on Tuesday and getting ready to inspect a Virgin America plane that had just arrived.

At around 6:30 p.m., he headed down the jet bridge toward the plane when he saw an elderly woman on the jetway floor and a customer service agent who told him that the passenger had just collapsed and was not breathing.

“I checked her airway to see if she was breathing, I checked her pulse in her arm, I checked her pulse in her neck. There was no pulse,” Kennish told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

The former police officer and Air Marshal immediately began CPR.

Two passengers, an ophthalmologist and a nurse, came forward to assist when a flight attendant brought an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the plane. The ophthalmologist administered the AED and Kennish again resumed CPR.

“She put the pads onto the patient, we all stepped back while we gave her a shock,” Kennish told Diamond.

“I wouldn’t classify myself as a hero. I just felt like I needed to do what needed to be done and I’m just glad the outcome worked out,” Kennish told 1010 WINS. “I’m also glad that there was an ophthalmologist there and a nurse to assist and were able to help this woman and potentially save her life.”

“Within seconds, I was able to feel a distal post in her left arm,” Kennish said. “The nurse was able to get a pulse. A flight attendant also provided us with oxygen from the aircraft. Once the oxygen was running, I placed the mask onto the woman to assist with her breathing.”

Shortly afterward, the woman and her husband were taken to a local hospital by paramedics, who arrived after the woman was given the AED, oxygen and CPR.

“The woman left the jet bridge breathing and the paramedics said that she would live,” Kennish said. “It was intense.”

When asked if he had seen the woman since saving her, Kennish replied “I don’t even know who she is. They whisked her away in the ambulance and I don’t know any information about her.”

Kennish said it was a group effort to revive the woman.

“I did what I had to do, I did what I was trained to do. I still consider myself, even though I’m not with the federal Air Marshals, I still consider myself a law enforcement officer and I still just acted as I would any other day,” said Kennish.

“TSI Kennish demonstrated amazing personal courage and skill in emergency response,” said Don Drummer, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “In all likelihood, Rob’s decisive actions saved this passenger’s life.”

Kennish, from Metuchen, N.J., is a trained Emergency Medical Technician and a former Federal Air Marshal who has worked for the TSA since 2002.