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Local TSA Agent saves man having heart attack at airport

Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 19:21:04-04

MILWAUKEE -- A TSA Agent at Mitchell International Airport is being hailed as a hero after saving a man's life earlier this week.

Tony D'Amico has worked at the TSA for the last ten years. He also works as a firefighter for the Town of Brookfield. He joined the TSA after 9/11 to honor his fellow firefighters who died that day.

"I wanted to do a little more for my country," D'Amico said.

Wednesday morning, D'Amico was in an office near the security line at Concourse D. Suddenly, he heard a loud thump. A 70-year-old man had collapsed shortly after passing through the security line.

"I heard a thump," D'Amico said. "[Me and two supervisors] came out running and noticed a passenger laying on the floor with his arms fully extended."

In a video shared exclusively with TODAY'S TMJ4, the man can be seen shaking uncontrollably on the ground. Another passenger tried to hold him after he fell. D'Amico immediately jumped in, using his experience as a first responder to help.

"I looked at him for a couple seconds to assess him," D'Amico said. "I noticed he wasn't breathing. Checked a pulse, no pulse. I opened his shirt to see if nay chest rise or stomach movement. I didn't see any of that. I checked for a pulse again and immediately started CPR at that time."

In the video, D'Amico can be seen doing chest compressions for roughly two minutes. The man had become unresponsive on the video but then D'Amico stops compressions. The man starts to slowly move and from an overhead security camera, the man slowly starts to come to. 

"It makes me feel really good," D'Amico said. "If that wouldn't have happened, brain damage starts occurring after four minutes. Four to six minutes you start having brain damage."

Sheriff's deputies at the airport showed up a few minutes after the man hit the ground and about 20 minutes later, emergency crews took over and got him to a hospital. However, D'Amico's first response likely saved his life. 

"I started kind of coming back down to earth so to speak," D'Amico said. "Gathering my thoughts on what happened. Just kind of surprised it did happen, like an unbelievable feeling."

"Probably [employee] of the year to be quite honest," Mark Lendvay, Federal Security Director for the Dept. of Homeland Security said. "Heroic efforts saving someone's life, you don't do that daily. And if you talk to him, he'll just say he was doing his job."

D'Amico only had a few hours left in his shift. Rather than take the rest of the day off after the whole ordeal, he took a few minutes and then got back to finish up. 

"They let me walk off to gain my composure so to speak," D'Amico said. "Came back and I have a job here to do. Came back and I finished my job."

Lendvay says the TSA plans on honoring D'Amico at their end of year awards banquet.