O'Hare gate agent becomes EMT, credited for saving multiple lives

Airline gate agents help you navigate when you travel, but one is being credited for saving multiple lives.

"I was seeing a lot of medical emergencies where I thought we could help out a little bit better and a lot of times I felt helpless," said Rodney Tabaniag.

Having a heart for people — that's what made O’Hare-based gate agent Rodney Tabaniag go through training to become an EMT.

The first time he used his training, instead of being on the job for American Airlines, he was a passenger.

"The first time it happened I was going on a trip to Vegas and over the PA, the flight attendants were looking for doctors and nurses," he said.

The 41-year-old was honored for taking life-saving action to save several passengers. This year alone, Rodney Tabaniag came to the medical aid of four travelers.


It started as a routine day. The gate agent was working the counter when the most memorable and frightening ordeal of his career unfolded — a passenger's heart stopped beating.

"One of the passengers helping us, pulled out his phone, it was the picture of the passenger and his entire family. It kind of hit me," Tabaniag said. "Bring me back so I can see my family."

Tabaniag was worried as time lingered on, but thankfully he was able to help save the man's life.

"We were able to bring him back, but it took a significant amount of time. I still think about that," he said.

The award is handed out once in a lifetime, but Tabaniag has nabbed it six times. That's more than any other team member.