Alaska airport TSA officer praised by family after saving choking daughter: 'God bless you'

A quick-thinking TSA officer in Alaska is being credited with saving a special-needs passenger from choking at the Juneau International Airport.

On Wednesday, Brenda Irizarry, the lead transportation security officer with the airport, was on-duty near the departures lounge when colleague Jessie Ashton flagged her down to aid with the emergency. Irizarry rushed over and performed the Heimlich maneuver, ultimately dislodging a grape from the woman’s windpipe. Ashton, meanwhile, had contacted paramedics.

Brenda Irizarry, the lead transportation security officer with the airport, rushed over to perform the Heimlich on the 26-year-old passenger.

Brenda Irizarry, the lead transportation security officer with the airport, rushed over to perform the Heimlich on the 26-year-old passenger. (TSA)

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“Brenda’s quick action saved [my daughter] from certain hospitalization while waiting at Alaska Airlines,” the woman’s father stated in a note shared by the TSA.

“[My daughter] had swallowed a large grape and was choking; another waiting passenger ran to TSA for help. Brenda, after several attempts using the Heimlich Maneuver, got the grape to pop out to the floor of the terminal," he continued. "God bless you, Brenda, thank you."

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The passenger and her family were reportedly on their way to a wedding in California, according to the Juneau Empire. The group was able to continue on with their journey after the incident.

A fellow security official has since praised both Irizarry and Ashton, calling their actions “heroic.”

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“In this short period of time, I’ve had the privilege of working shoulder to shoulder with many heroes who have gone far beyond the call of duty to assist the public during a critical time of need,” said Alaska Assistant Federal Security Director Dave McDermott. “I am extremely proud of Irizarry’s life-saving actions and Ashton’s leadership by keeping her cool in the face of a medical emergency; your actions are a testament to TSA and all of Team Alaska.”