For a harrowing 10 minutes, U.S. Customs and Border Protection emergency medical technicians administered extraordinary lifesaving efforts on an unresponsive female traveler at Washington Dulles International Airport on February 6.
Those efforts were rewarded an additional 10 minutes later when airport paramedics regained a pulse and again later when news from the hospital reported that the woman was breathing on her own.
This rescue started at 5:36 p.m., when airport ambassadors alerted nearby CBP officers of an unresponsive woman in a wheelchair near the baggage belt. The woman, a 54-year-old Indian national and U.S. lawful permanent resident, had just arrived on a 15-hour flight from Doha, Qatar.
At 5:38 p.m., CBP Officer Nicholas Karstetter, who is a certified advanced emergency medical technician (EMT), and Supervisory CBP Officer Herman Hundal, another certified EMT, responded and immediately initiated Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Hundal would also connect the woman to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), but the AED advised against shock during three separate assessments.
Two additional CBP officers, Chief Leo Carbone, another certified EMT, and Supervisor Harmanpreet Singh arrived and took turns administering CPR compressions while Kartsetter implemented a King airway device.
At 5:46 p.m., Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Fire and Rescue arrived and assumed lifesaving efforts with CBP EMT assistance. They then placed the woman on a stretcher and departed CBP’s inspection station at 6 p.m. A minute later, MWAA EMS reported that they regained a pulse.
And by 7:30 p.m., MWAA Police officers reported that the woman was breathing on her own at the hospital.
“Though the woman didn’t regain a pulse until she was enroute to the hospital, the incredible lifesaving efforts by Customs and Border Protection EMTs during those critical first 10 minutes have helped her to survive so that she can spend more time with her family and friends again, and that is a great story,” said Daniel Escobedo, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington, DC. “CBP is comprised of many compassionate and caring professional law enforcement officers who have volunteered to serve an additional duty as EMTs to ensure that travelers suffering medical distress have a fighting chance at life.”
The U.S. Border Patrol has had highly trained emergency medical specialists for many years, but EMT certification is relatively new for CBP’s Office of Field Operations. Field Operations officers are assigned to air, sea and land ports of entry and are in direct contact daily with travelers and transportation professionals, such as air and ship crews, and truckers. Should a traveler or transportation professional suffer a serious medical issue, immediate medical care during those initial minutes can be crucial to a victim’s survival.
CBP started training officers as certified EMTs in 2019, and presently, 368 CBP officers are certified as EMTs, four as Advanced EMTs, and 13 as Paramedics.