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Orlando airport recovering after TSA worker's apparent suicide

OIA promised better emergency response after last mass rescreening

ORLANDO, Fla. – When thousands of passengers had to be rescreened after an apparent suicide caused a security breach at the Orlando International Airport on Saturday, it was the second such incident in the past year and a half.

The most recent incident was when a Transportation Security Administration agent jumped off of a balcony into the airport's atrium.

In the ensuing chaos, travelers waiting in the security checkpoint line ran ahead before they were able to be screened. Airport officials then made the choice to rescreen everyone at the affected terminals, including those who had already gotten onto planes.

In November 2017, a lithium camera battery in a bag began smoking and exploded, sending passengers running. OIA officials decided to rescreen thousands of passengers, fearing that some had slipped through the security checkpoint.

After the incident, OIA Director Phil Brown said the airport needed to do a better job of communicating with the traveling public in an emergency.

"The issue was, when you have a terminal with 5,000 people and you're sending out messages, you have to have the volume turned up, and we need to make some improvement in those areas," Brown said in 2017.

Brown said staff would look into using the voice capability of fire alarms to talk to passengers, quickly posting information on the electronic signs and exploring sending text messages to passengers like airlines do.

On Sunday, News 6 asked OIA spokespeople if any of those changes had been implemented. As of Sunday night, they had not responded.

On Saturday, airport officials used bullhorns to talk to passengers waiting in line to be rescreened and posted messages on the electronic message boards, but that was more than an hour after the incident.

The Orlando Police Department is investigating the death of the TSA worker. He has not been identified.


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