TSA officers Brenda Irizarry and Jessie Ashton are being rightly praised after their quick thinking saved the life of a special-needs passenger.

If you were walking along the street and saw someone being attacked, would you step in to try and help? Probably not, as chances are it would result in you getting hurt too. What about if you saw someone choking? Again, probably not, but this time the reason for not acting would be because most of us wouldn't really know what to do.


We've all heard of the Heimlich maneuver, and there have probably been times when we've joked about knowing how to perform it. However, if faced with a situation where we need to use it, we could end up doing more harm than good. That's why when a passenger was choking on a grape at Juneau International Airport, a TSA officer called upon someone she knew could help.

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Jessie Ashton was in the midst of a very serious emergency, the TSA reported via its website. A passenger with special needs was choking on a grape. Presumably knowing that her colleague Branda Irizarry would know what to do, she quickly gestured for her to come over. Irizarry performed the Heimlich maneuver and after a few attempts, managed to dislodge the grape from the woman's throat.

"Brenda’s quick action saved [my daughter] from certain hospitalization while waiting at Alaska Airlines," explained the extremely relived father of the passenger. He explained that his daughter had swallowed a large grape, and although TSA had called for paramedics, in the time it would have taken for them to arrive his daughter would have probably been hospitalized, if not worse.

Thanks to Jessie and Brenda, the daughter and her family were able to continue on their trip as planned after the shock of what had just happened subsided. They were on their way to a wedding in California so had a long trip ahead of them. Perhaps that was a good thing and gave them a few hours to relax after what must have been a very stressful situation at the airport.

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