A bevy of strangers come together to save a life in the Baltimore airport

— Photo by Joe Careccia

Saving a life: Kyle Haines, kneeling, does chest compressions on a man who collapsed at the airport in Baltimore, as a Transportation Security Administration agent checks his pulse. Haines and the TSA agent switched off doing chest compressions until emergency medical services arrived. “He was cool as a cucumber,” said Joe Careccia, who works with Haines at a company that produces fire-training structures and who took this picture. “I was impressed by him. I know him pretty well, but I had never seen him in action.”

It was to be an ordinary flight from Baltimore to Albany, the final leg home from a business trip to Atlanta. He hadn’t planned to save anybody that day. 

But as Second Assistant Chief Kyle Haines of the Altamont Fire Department walked through the terminal in Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, he heard a loud crash. 

He turned around and saw an older man who “definitely needed help,” Haines told The Enterprise recently with some reluctance, emphasizing that he doesn’t “help people for the attention.” 

The man had half-collapsed. He was on the floor in almost a deep squat, legs akimbo and arms hooked over a low metal railing. 

Haines and “a couple of other folks” ran over to help the man who was “not very responsive” at the time.

What was the man doing? “Nothing,” Haines said. “Absolutely nothing. It was hard to tell if his heart was beating at that time, but he did stop breathing soon after I got over to him. His body was tense, and he looked like he might be seizing.” 

Others, besides Haines, stopped to help, too: a nurse, a doctor, and a Traffic Safety Administration agent who was also a trained emergency medical technician. 

“The nurse was the one who really took charge of the situation,” Haines recalled. 

“The TSA agent ran and got the nearest AED [automated external defibrillator], the nurse controlled the airway and did the breathing, the TSA agent and myself split the compressions, and I administered the AED — put the pads on the patient,” Haines recalled. 

The man’s heart stopped and was restarted twice with the AED, and the team kept on giving him breaths and doing compressions — with Haines and the TSA agent switching off periodically — until emergency medical services got there. When they arrived, Haines said, the man had a regular rhythm. 

Co-worker Joe Careccia snapped a photo of Haines doing chest compressions to keep the man’s heart beating. 

Haines, who is 29 and lives in Altamont, wasn’t sure how long the team worked together on the resuscitation. “I think 10 or 15 minutes,” he said, “until EMS got there.” 


The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair
The team needs help: From left to right are Altamont firefighters Chief Robert White, First Assistant Chief Paul Miller, and Second Assistant Chief Haines, as they look at an automated external defibrillator. Haines used an AED to revive a man at the Baltimore airport.


Did he need a quick jog around the terminal, or maybe a beer, to loosen up after what must have been a tension-filled 10 or 15 minutes? 

“No, I guess it’s kind of normal, although it was the first time I ever performed CPR in the field. I did call my buddy in North Carolina — he’s a firefighter down there, and a former volunteer in Altamont — and said, ‘Hey, you’ll never guess what just happened to me.’” 

Asked if he made his flight, Haines said sure. “We had like 45 minutes, and Baltimore is not that big.” 

Interestingly enough, he said, that same nurse was on his flight to Albany. She mentioned then that she had worked in an emergency room for 25 years.     

He didn’t ask her name, or where she worked. “I didn’t want to bother her,” he said. 

A television news story from the Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ said that the 67-year-old man who had collapsed in the airport survived, and that he had been released from the hospital the following week.

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