Luck had Nothing to do with Willigan’s Heroics on St. Patrick’s Day

June 8, 2011

As TSA officers, our mission is to protect the traveling public but also, as TSO Brigid Willigan recently demonstrated, to provide assistance to those in need. And for Brigid, could it be any more appropriate that the assistance she rendered occurred on St. Patrick’s Day?

Brigid was on duty at Southwest Checkpoint that day. She was on her break when she saw a passenger in distress: a woman bent over a trash receptacle.

“For a brief second I thought she had had one too many, considering it was St. Patrick’s Day, but when she saw me, her eyes lit up and she proceeded to point to her neck. She then told me that she was choking and she could not breathe,” Brigid recalled. “She was shaking because she was so scared.”

Brigid realized that since the passenger was able to speak, she could breathe, and so informed the woman while attempting to calm her down.

“I told her to bend over the trash can, as she was doing when I first saw her, because she was coughing up fluids. I told her to keep doing so while I called for help,” Brigid recalled, fearing the woman was having either an anxiety attack or an asthma attack.

The quick-thinking TSA officer turned over her SIDA badge and called the Massport Medical Emergency Number on the back. Meanwhile another passenger came over to assist and also attempted to calm down the woman.

Because she did not have the Southwest checkpoint number, Brigid called International, where STSO Melanie Hopkinson told Brigid she would call MSP and would also respond. Almost immediately the state police and EMTs arrived and provided assistance.

“I guess I just acted quickly because I was not positive what was wrong with the woman and wanted to make sure she received all the medical help she needed, not just what I could do for her. That’s why I called the EMTs,” Brigid stated.

And that kind of response to a person in need is what being a TSA officer is all about, too.