Pilot suffering cardiac arrest saved by quick actions of Richmond TSA, first responders

It started off as a normal day for TSA Officer Nigel Allen and Lead TSA Officer, Trenard Collier.
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It started as a typical day for TSA Officer Nigel Allen and Lead TSA Officer Trenard Collier.

While in the middle of daily security operations, Allen and Collier noticed a pilot on the other side of the atrium staggering to a railing.

The pilot collapsed, and Allen sprinted across the atrium to help.

“He just left and went into a gallop to be the first one on the scene and comfort him,” said Chuck Burke, TSA Federal Security Director at RIC.

Allen had to put on his CPR training until the first responders arrived.

“Next thing you know, he dropped to the ground. I ran over just to make sure he was okay. His neck was kind of bending, so I held it up, and I noticed that he was having trouble breathing, so I tried to have his airways opened,” he said. “When I noticed he started turning purple and his breathing stopped, we started to perform the CPR procedure.”

Both Richmond Police Chief Tanika Brown and Richmond Fire Chief Doug Martin were in a meeting when they got the call about the pilot collapsing. At first, the call was for a person down, but then it was upgraded.

“The next thing that came out of the radio was, ‘the person’s turning blue,’” said Chief Martin.

Both fire and police crews rushed to the airport.

“It’s more than just a call. That’s a person, that’s a parent, that’s a husband,” said Chief Brown.

Professionals then took over CPR for Allen while he ran to get the AED or automatic defibrillator.

“Police, the fire and rescue, everybody else, they knew what they were doing, and that’s what saved his life,” said Burke.

Then, the pilot’s heart stopped, so the AED was put to use, bringing the pilot’s heartbeat back.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team and my staff and how they support not only the national mission of protecting airways but the community and provide service like that without giving it a thought,” said Burke.