Man Dies of Heart Attack at Airport Because Emergency Responders Were Delayed by Locked Security Doors

This is the airport security checkpoint at Terminla 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It is not not clear at this time exactly which area in Terminal 4 where Gunseye Adekunle suffered from cardiac arrest. Photograph by FlyerTalk member nycflyer75. Click on the photograph for additional photographs by nycflyer75, as well as a discussion pertaining to Terminal 4.

Two separate teams of emergency responders were reportedly unable to reach a man — who suffered from a heart attack — in time to save his life because they were unable to open the locked security doors with their identification cards at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Emergency responders from both the police department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Fire Department of New York attempted to reach Gunseye Adekunle — a resident of New Jersey who was 50 years old — who died of cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to Jamaica Hospital at least 40 minutes after a police operator received a call via 911 at approximately 6:30 in the morning.

The incident reportedly occurred in Terminal 4 — the same terminal where extensive renovations were recently completed by Delta Air Lines in part to replace the old Worldport building also known as Terminal 3, which is now closed to the public.

According to a spokesperson from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, there technically was no delay when it came to administering aid to Adekunle because a customs official began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately after the heart attack occurred.

While a spokesperson representing Delta Air Lines denies any fault on the part of the company, the main question is why the identification cards used by emergency responders supposedly failed in a terminal building whose cost was greater than one billion dollars to renovate.

In fact, FlyerTalk member Asiaflyguy thought that it was “odd that the airport does not have terminal first responders with AED’s, O2 and other EMT supported/approved treatment tools.”

Another question is whether or not Adekunle would have survived had emergency personnel successfully reached him within minutes and treated him.

Well, at least an operator of a jet ski will most likely not be able to penetrate the security of Terminal 4, as happened in August of 2012 where a man 31 years of age inadvertently walked through two runways and into a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, bypassing all of the state-of-the-art security systems worth $100 million while wearing a bright yellow life jacket.

I suspect that there is more to this story than we know, which is why this tragic incident is currently under investigation — but as of now, no changes have been implemented to the security doors or to the badges of personnel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Comments (Showing 5 of 5)

  • gooseman13 at 12:27pm July 18, 2013

    Isn’t the headline here a bit misleading? There doesn’t appear to be any proof in the article that the death was related to delayed aid.

  • Asiaflyguy at 4:49pm July 18, 2013

    No definative proof, but it is widely known fact that a person suffering a heart attach or in cardiac arrest stands a significantly great chance of surviving if administerd treatment (or CPR) within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the cardiac event. I’m sure the autopsy results will determine if it was amassive cardiac arrent and if the delayed response time was a factor or not.

  • elf618 at 7:31pm July 18, 2013

    While this is indeed tragic, and outcomes are better with earlier interventions, the statistics are not good for patients who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Overall, patients who have cardiac arrest out-of-hospital have a survival to hospital discharge of less than 10%. This improves somewhat with immediate cpr from a bystander (call for help, then PUSH HARD AND FAST IN THE CENTER OF THE CHEST AT 100 COMPRESSIONS PER MINUTE) and even more if an AED is available and the patient is found to be in a shockable rhythm. While more could have possibly been done for this patient, the sad reality is that even with immediate shock when indicated, only about 30% survive these types of medical collapse. We should continue to work hard to minimize response times and to increase the number of citizens willing to provide bystander CPR, the take away here should also be that there are still limitations to our system. The Customs official should be commended for beginning CPR immediately.
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6008a1.htm

  • Dubai Stu at 6:09am July 21, 2013

    The issue in my mind is why we don’t keep some EMTs on the premise at places like JFK.

  • MIT_SBM at 10:13pm July 26, 2013

    Shall we add another tax … er … fee to airfares to pay for this? It could be called US Passenger Medical Charge (BO). A flat fee of USD$50.00 could be the starting point.

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