Airport police officer survives brush with death

Collis Boone suffered sudden cardiac death on duty, brought back to life by fellow officers, travelers

SAN ANTONIO – Last August, San Antonio Airport Police Officer Collis Boone "died" while he was on duty, but he beat the odds and survived a brush with death.

Boone, a veteran with the department, said he had just started his night shift and was standing next to a fellow officer doing traffic patrol when he began having problems.

"The officer looked over and he said my eyes really big and round and that my tongue was sticking out," Boone recalled. "He looked at me and looked down the road to see what I was looking at and he was like, 'Man, what are you looking at?' and that's when I went down."

A security camera installed on the parking garage at the San Antonio International Airport captured video of Boone collapsing onto a sidewalk near the passenger pickup area.

Just as he hits the ground, a fellow police officer begins working on him.

Boone's heart stopped, but it wasn't a heart attack. It was something called "sudden cardiac death."

"A heart attack is your heart muscle dying and failing. Sudden cardiac death is your heart's electrical system just shutting off," Boone said. "It's just like hitting control, alt (and) delete on a Windows computer. 'We're just going to turn off for now.'"

Boone's partner was the first to start working on him but he was quickly joined by other officers and passengers with medical backgrounds who took turns performing CPR and using an AED to shock his heart.

"So I had two police officers who knew CPR, a respiratory therapist, an EMT and a doctor and then another doctor came up within two to three minutes," Boone said. "They got a pulse back (in) less than 10 minutes, but they were doing CPR and ventilating the whole time so I didn't go without oxygen. If I was anywhere but standing right here, they'd have found my body the next morning. That's why I'm here. No other reason behind it."

Boone bounced back quickly, returning to work in just six weeks and back to full duty a month after that.

Doctors discovered he suffers from a genetic mutation of the heart called Long QT. Most people don't even know they have it until it's too late.

"Ninety-nine percent of those that have it, they find it at the autopsy. It's extremely rare to walk away from it," Boone said. "They think my grandfather had the same thing in 1976 because he was mid-sentence talking to my grandma and he dropped."

Boone said his doctor tells him he's able to perform all of his duties and his heart is in good shape.

"He told me, 'I've seen the inside of your heart and it's perfect,'" Boone said. "'We fixed the electrical system part of it that was broken so there's nothing wrong with you now.'"

While his heart is healthy, Boone now takes medications and has an internal cardiac defibrillator in his chest, just in case.

"If this thing senses anything that's not normal it will deliver a shock right then and there," Boone said.

As he looks back to the night he died, Boone said he can only give thanks to the people who stepped in to bring him back.

"I don't know where they came from but thank you," he said. "I'm glad they stepped up."

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