Philadelphia International Airport recognized for saving lives

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In the last 10 years, 18 lives have been saved at the Philadelphia International Airport thanks to its Automated External Defibrillator program.

Dave Shafer is one of those survivors.

We first learned of Shafer and his family a week ago, after they reached out to Action News for help in finding the woman who helped save his life.

Shafer went to get a cup of coffee when he collapsed in Terminal D.

The woman grabbed the defibrillator and helped revive him until paramedics arrived.

"She was the one who first came in and grabbed the AED and gave him those critical moments," son Dave Shafer said.

Thanks to a post on the Action News Facebook page, the family found the good Samaritan and spoke with her via FaceTime Wednesday night.

We know her only as Rita, a nurse originally from Philadelphia who was flying to her home in California, when she saw Shafer in distress.

"Without that, my dad wouldn't be here today. I'm a firm believer that those machines throughout the airport saved my dad's live," Dave Shafer said.

Those AEDs are located within walking distance every 90 seconds throughout the Philadelphia Airport.

On Thursday, the Red Cross recognized the airport for supplying the machines and for training its entire staff on how to use them.

"18 lives saved are incredible, but honestly the fact that Mr. Schafer sits here makes every penny the airport spent worth it," Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes of the American Red Cross said.

The Shafer family was at the ceremony as a living testament that AEDs work.

"These machines being around the airport are critical. The machines talk to you, they tell you what to do. Anybody could go up and grab the machine and use it," Dave Shafer said.
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