The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today honored MTA Police Officer Jason Papa and Sergeant David Bergstein for stepping in to save a man’s life at the Orlando International Airport on Tuesday, April 26, while waiting to board their flight back to New York. The man whose life was saved, Scott Williams, and a doctor, Dr. Jason Kreiner, who also assisted at the scene, reunited with Sgt. Bergstein and Officer Papa for the first time since the incident at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Station.
Unbeknownst to either of them at the time, Officer Papa and Sgt. Bergstein were on the same flight to MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York. Sgt. Bergstein was sitting at the gate waiting to board with his family, while Officer Papa was in line to board the flight. Officer Papa heard a loud thump and saw a man in the line had collapsed. When he approached Williams, he realized Williams was in cardiac arrest and immediately began to perform chest compressions.
At the same time, a few feet away, Sgt. Bergstein heard that someone had collapsed and rushed over to see Officer Papa performing chest compressions. The officers instantly recognized each other. Sgt. Bergstein proceeded to call out for others to dial 911 and bring an automated external defibrillator (AED) to assist with a second round of chest compressions.
Shortly thereafter, a Good Samaritan arrived with an AED along with Dr. Jason Kreiner, an anesthesiologist from NYU Langone Hospital – Long Island, who also happened to be on the flight. Dr. Kreiner then took over the third round of chest compressions. Officer Papa turned on the AED and Sgt. Bergstein placed the pads on Williams’ chest and administered the first shock, which was followed by a fourth round of chest compressions. It was at that time when Williams regained consciousness.
Officer Papa explained to Williams that he had lost consciousness, assured him EMS was on the way, and rolled him on his side to help Williams breathe more easily to relieve pressure from his back. Within minutes EMS and Orlando Police arrived and took over Williams' care, later saying that he would not have survived without immediate intervention by the trio from New York.
“There is no amount of words to express your appreciation and gratitude when someone saves your life,” said Scott Williams. “The paramedics said that if it wasn’t for these three, I wouldn’t have made it. I’m thankful that they were there and had the training that saved my life. It’s very life changing. I definitely have a different perspective on life.”
“You don’t really think about it when you are doing it,” said Officer Jason Papa. “You jump in, I got to help this guy out, it was a collaborative team effort. My mom passed away from cancer the same day my daughter was born, on May 25th. Something happened to this man, and we were able to give him that second chance with his three kids. It means a lot to me.”
“I jump right into it. God Bless knowing how to do CPR. I’m glad we were successful.” said Sergeant David Bergstein.
Williams has three sons and was traveling alone at the time of the incident. He later informed Officer Papa that he had heart surgery in 2015 and had an appointment to check his prosthetic aortic valve in New York in May.
“These emergency situations are what we prepare for, with our training and recertifications,” said MTA Police Department Acting Chief of Police Sean Montgomery. “But when an emergency actually unfolds, it takes more than just the training to handle a situation. It takes courage to step in and decisive action, which both officers displayed that day.”
“The heroic actions of Officer Papa and Sgt. Bergstein saved the life of a father of three kids,” said MTA Police Department Deputy Chief of the Eastern Region Alexander Lindsay. “Their quick-thinking, knowledge and instinctiveness to help proudly reflect the spirit of the MTA PD. They handled a time-sensitive emergency with diligence and care.”
Bergstein has been with the MTA Police Department (MTAPD) for 16 years. Officer Papa has been with the MTAPD for 5 years, previously serving the NYPD for five years.