Washington (CNN) – While stopping Tuesday morning at a Charlotte airport on his way to Washington, Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee found himself rushing to something other than a plane.
He was scrambling to save a man's life.
Around 7 a.m. ET, the Republican congressman, an obstetrician for 30 years, responded to cries for help after a man collapsed near a New York City departure gate.
"He wasn't breathing, and he started to turn red and blue," said Ward Gibson, a 31-year-old passenger who first saw the man fall to the ground. "I saw his eyes roll back into his head."
Gibson said as he began calling for a doctor and waving people over for help, he saw Roe running towards him from a different gate.
"He gave me the impression that he was someone with the airport administration," Gibson said. "He was so calm and in control and knew how to read the situation."
Gibson said a nurse also responded to the scene and helped assess the man's vitals, which showed no pulse or signs of breathing.
"It was a really bad, bad scene. The entire gate was frozen with people standing around waiting to see what was going to happen," Gibson said. "It was great to see people stepping in to do some good."
Once they were able to position the man for CPR, Gibson said Roe and two other people took turns with compressions while someone else tried to clear the man's airway and give breaths.
"I remember looking down and seeing his wedding ring and thinking this guy has a wife somewhere," said Gibson, who was in charge of holding up the man's legs to pump more blood to the heart. "The biggest thing going through my head was hoping to see him pop up at some point."
According to Roe's office, the congressman assisted with CPR for about five to six minutes, until the EMTs arrived to hook up a defibrillator and initiate an electrical shock to the patient's heart.
"He had flat-lined, but his heart regained a beat after the shock," said Amanda Little, Roe's communications director. "He was dead and came back to life."
Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina had been waiting for a flight with Roe when the congressman suddenly dashed off to help.
"I didn't even know Phil was a doctor," Mulvaney told CNN, describing the scene as one with a "real sense of dread."
"I had never seen anybody giving CPR in person before. It was just a violent thing."
After the man regained a heartbeat, Gibson said he began hearing the patient breathe, although laboriously. He was then wheeled away on a stretcher.
Gibson estimated that from the moment the man had collapsed to the moment he first heard him breathe again, approximately 20 minutes had passed.
His condition appeared to improve quickly, as the patient was reported to be alert and conscious when leaving the airport, according to the airport's communications director, Lee Davis.
Davis said the incident wasn't all that rare, saying the airport estimates emergency personnel respond to about 20 to 25 cases involving CPR per year.
The latest news the congressman's office heard indicated the patient was in stable condition at the hospital.
As for Roe, the two-term congressman went on with his day, making his plane on time and arriving in Washington at 8:48 a.m. for a day of meetings, his office said.
"It was just amazing," Mulvaney said. "Phil was there one minute talking to me at the gate, then he ran over, revived a guy who was dead, came back, picked up his bag and got on the plane."
- CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.