Woman with flying phobia credits CMPD officer with helping her through panic attack

- Rachel Brummert had a scary experience last October while she was at the airport. She has a flying phobia and PTSD. She says a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer officer helped her through the whole ordeal. 

Eight months later, she found that CMPD officer she credits as her hero.

“Loud noises really bother me. I don’t like to be touched. I don’t like crowds,” she said.

After going through TSA and being patted down, in combination of the feeling overwhelmed by trying to navigate the airport, she experienced a panic attack.

“When you go through an attack you can’t think of anything other than wanting to feel safe. So it’s important to find someone to help you land a little bit more softly,” she said. “It’s like you get tunnel vision and you can’t think of anything else, and you’re hyperventilating. You’re really just trying to survive is the biggest thing. You know, your heart beats out of your chest. And you just don’t feel safe. You know everything seems like a threat when you’re in the middle of an attack. And it’s scary.

She locked eyes with a police officer nearby. She approached him.

“I need help. And he’s like, 'I’ll take care of you. He de-escalated me. He walked me to my gate. He told the gate staff to take care of me. I thought it was really, really kind of him to do that,'” she said.

Before leaving she took a selfie with him.

“I took a picture because I wanted to kind of capture the moment when I felt safe in a place that I did not at first feel safe. So I asked him if he would take a selfie with me and he said yes!” she said.

This moment stuck with Brummert. She never forgot about it. She reached out to the airport in the hopes of finding who this officer was and never heard back.

“I had kind of gave up on it,” she said.

Days ago, she found herself traveling again for business. While at the airport she was reminded about last year’s incident.

“I at least wanted to know his name,” Brummert said.

So, she reached out the airport, again. She sent them the picture. The airport reached out to the police department. This time, she got the officer’s name.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it just because he made me feel so safe. And it was such a simple thing. And it’s probably his job to do that. But to me it was a really safe place me for to sorta decompress and feel safe again.”

She took the name, found him on Facebook and sent him a message. He wrote her back. 

“I don’t cry very often. But I cried. I was just so touched that I could finally have a connection back with the man who helped me feel safe again.”

Now, Brummert is working to help others who are like her. She wants to partner with the airport to create a program that will help those who may experience panic attacks while at the airport. She envisions a program that includes a buddy system, where a airport worker familiar with people who have attacks, can walk with them from the TSA checkpoint and to their gate.

“He treated me like I was not broken. Those are the things that you remember,” she said.

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