Honolulu airport celebrates 82nd AED save with patient, EMS reunion
TSA officer Mark Gumabon was reunited with first responders, TSA officers who resuscitated him after sudden cardiac arrest
By Mia Anzalone
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
HONOLULU — Hugs, handshakes and tears were in abundance Wednesday afternoon at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport when Mark Gumabon, 57, a Transportation Security Administration officer, was reunited with the first responders and fellow TSA officers who resuscitated him after he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in April.
Hugs, handshakes and tears were in abundance Wednesday afternoon at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport when Mark Gumabon, 57, a Transportation Security Administration officer, was reunited with the first responders and fellow TSA officers who resuscitated him after he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in April.
Gumabon’s family, including four adult children and nine grandchildren, offered food and beverages to the responders from the Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Emergency Services, the state Sheriff Division and TSA.
“I’d like to thank all of the responders. I’m banking on this, that you’re all very attentive and caring, " Gumabon said. “I’m living proof of that.”
Gumabon said the last thing he remembered was packing up his truck to head home for the day when, in the middle of the airport’s employee parking lot, he went into cardiac arrest April 22.
Allied Universal security officers rushed to help him and flagged down TSA officers Mike Phillips, 43, and Sean Loo, 32, who were walking back to their cars to go home. Both trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Phillips and Loo checked his vitals and took turns performing chest compressions until the state Sheriff Division responded with an automated external defibrillator.
HFD and EMS also responded, and EMS took Gumabon to Pali Momi Medical Center, where he spent two weeks recovering in the intensive care unit.
With prior training in CPR, Loo said he knew the general procedure of how to approach the situation, but April’s event was his first time having to apply his knowledge.
“It’s nerve-wracking, " Loo said.
Both Loo and Phillips said they had only worked with Gumabon a few times, and Phillips said seeing Gumabon with his family Wednesday brought tears to his eyes.
“It’s great, seeing him alive and being able to meet his family, to see that a little thing we did has impacted his life and his family, " Loo said.
The reunion was facilitated by the state Department of Transportation Airport Division’s Operation Stay’n Alive program, which provides free AED and CPR training to the public from the AED Institute of America. Gumabon’s reunion marked the program’s 82nd celebration of a life saved with an AED at Honolulu’s airport.
Honolulu’s airport has 166 AEDs throughout in public and employee spaces and in sterile and non-sterile areas, said Pam Foster, president and CEO of AED Institute of America Inc. and the AED program coordinator of Operation Stay’n Alive.
Since 2006, 104 cardiac arrests have occurred at the Honolulu airport, with 40 % of the victims being employees, Foster said.
The survival rate of a cardiac arrest in the community is only 10 % compared with an 80 % survival rate of a cardiac arrest occurring within an airport, Foster told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Unlike a heart attack that mainly happens to individuals over 35, anyone can undergo a cardiac arrest, regardless of age or health condition, Foster said. She said that while heart attack victims tend to undergo preceding signs of their condition—like chest and arm pain, shortness of breath and nausea—cardiac arrest victims can become unresponsive without any warning.
It is a common misconception that you must be certified to perform CPR, but Foster said that everyone has the ability to learn and perform lifesaving techniques.
“You don’t need to have a card, you need to have the knowledge, " Foster said.
Gumabon’s wife, Gloria, 56, was emotional while thanking the people who saved her husband’s life.
“I’m very grateful that things happened the way that they did, that there were people in place and there were people that helped him, " she said.
The responders were given a certificate of recognition for their “quick actions and willingness to help others " signed by the state Department of Transportation Airports Fire Chief Martinez Jacobs.
Mark Gumabon has worked at TSA for four years, and served as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army for 28 years.
Amid the chatter, Gumabon’s family cut into a chocolate cake decorated with monstera leaves and plumeria flowers that read, “Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude ... Mahalo and God Bless !” piped in frosting.
“It is honestly overwhelming because I don’t know if he would have made it if those people weren’t there, " said Aija Gumabon, Mark Gumabon’s 32-year-old daughter.
During his recovery at Pali Momi Medical Center, Aija Gumabon said her father was so ready and anxious to leave that he was “literally trying to escape.”
Mark Gumabon said while he is still on medical leave, his cardiac arrest hasn’t affected his daily life at all—except that he doesn’t leave the house at 4 :30 a.m. every morning, he said.
“I feel younger, more flexible, agile, " Gumabon said. “I can’t wait to get back to work and see all of my old friends.”