TSA agent saves choking baby at Newark-Liberty Airport

A Transportation Security Administration agent at Newark-Liberty International Airport is being hailed a hero after saving a baby who was choking.

On Dec. 9, a young mother was carrying her two-month-old son in a car seat through a security checkpoint when she lifted him out and noticed he wasn't breathing, said TSA officials. When she didn't get a response, the mother began to yell for help.

TSA Officer Cecilia Morales, who has 10 years of experience as an EMT, initially shouted instructions over to the mother.

"But she was so nervous and I knew if I didn’t get over there, it wasn’t going to be a good outcome," said Morales." "I jumped over the checkpoint conveyor belt rollers and she gave me the baby. I performed the infant Heimlich maneuver on him." 

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Morales held the infant carefully to keep his airway open, placed him face down on her arm and patted him on the back, but he did not respond.

Moreales tried again, and the second time the infant started to breathe again. 

"The mother was too nervous and in shock to hold her son, so I carried the infant through the walk through metal detector," said Morales. 

A pediatric EMT arrived a short time later to give the baby oxygen.

It was the first time Morales, a Newark native with extensive experience resuscitating people, had performed the life-saving technique on an infant.

"Two months on the job and she’s literally a life-saver," said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. "Officer Morales’s quick reaction and actions helped ensure that this family will have a happy holiday season. Her actions were inspiring."

"I saw the video afterward," said Morales. "It was the first time I’ve ever seen myself in action, saving a life. It was mind-blowing to watch. I felt that my training and experience just took over."

"If Officer Morales did not utilize her critical thinking, knowledge and quick response, perhaps we could have had a terrible outcome," said TSA Manager Ayrana Frazier. "In the moment Officer Morales was selfless, and her priority was to save a life. We are proud to call her one of our own."