A 50-year-old man died of a heart attack at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday because emergency responders were stuck behind secure doors and unable to open them with their ID cards.
Gunseye Adekunle, a New Jersey resident, died of cardiac arrest
shortly after two separate teams of paramedics struggled with the
locked airport doors, the New York Post writes in an exclusive
report. Their ID cards failed at the Delta terminal, even though
the $1.4 billion terminal had been newly renovated.
A police operator received the 911 call around 6:30
a.m., and was told that the victim was breathing, but
unresponsive. A Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) ambulance
was quickly dispatched, but unable to enter the terminal doors
from the street. The fire department (FDNY) also responded
to the scene, but was likewise denied entry when the security
system failed to recognize the ID card of the police officer who
was escorting them.
FDNY responders were denied entry at 7:10 a.m.,
about 40 minutes after the 911 call had been made. At that point,
each passing minute without medical care put the heart attack
victim at greater risk of death.
“Seconds are critical when responding to a cardiac event,”
an anonymous source familiar with the incident told the Post.
“And unfortunately, unnecessary obstacles take away those
critical seconds and possibly a patient’s fighting chance.”
Emergency medical responders from the Port Authority dispatch
were eventually able to enter the building through another route,
but they were delayed by two minutes. The PAPD EMTs lacked the
required medical equipment and training to help the victim, but
the FDNY team was still stuck outside.
Responders then decided to bring the patient down to the
ambulance. They placed Adekunle into the vehicle and transported
him to Jamaica Hospital. But the 50-year-old man died in the
ambulance. It is unclear if he received medical treatment in the
A Port Authority dispatcher later told the Post that there was a
“delay in patient contact due to elevator/SIDA card denied
access in T-4,” thereby suggesting that the delay contributed
to the man’s death.
The newly expanded and renovated Delta Terminal was completed in
May at the cost of $1.4 billion. It features 16 lanes and boasts
having a consolidated security checkpoint and more efficient
screening procedures. The JFK Airport website describes the new
terminal as “modern, efficient, spacious and unique,” and
calls it a “successful paradigm for air terminal
But the error in the security system that denied EMTs crucial
access to the terminal was a fatal flaw that may have cost one
man his life. A Delta spokeswoman denied any fault and told the
Post that the company was not responsible for the error.
Republished with permission from: RT