SAN ANTONIO – Medina ISD Police Chief Abel Devora was working a track meet on February 28, thinking it would be a nice turnout on a nice day. But, that’s when his world went black.
“I went down. I was coming to the fence line and I have no idea after that. It’s everybody else’s story because I don’t know what happened. I have no clue. I don’t remember one thing,” he said.
Amy Phillippe, an ER nurse, was attending the track meet with her kids at the time of the incident. She reacted quickly and began CPR on Devora.
“He was completely blue. No pulse. So we just started compressions right away,” she remembers.
Devora’s 12-year-old daughter was nearby at the track meet.
An AED arrived and they continued to alternate compression and shocks, without any response for 15 minutes, until finally a change.
“His heart started beating again. He was over 100 a minute and breathing on his own again,” she said.
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As he was being loaded into a helicopter, she called her supervisor at University Hospital in case he was being flown to the hospital where she works and filled in a supervisor.
“I said, ‘I just did CPR at my daughter’s track meet.’ So then I gave her the details so they would be able to put the story together so they already knew. He needs to get to cath lab.”
Devora doesn’t remember any of that. His next memory is waking up at the hospital.
“I was dead. They brought me back once or twice,” he said. He underwent a quintuple bypass surgery a few days later at University Hospital.
Phillippe has been able to visit him a few times and says he’s doing much better.
The retired Houston police officer says this wasn’t his first encounter with death. About 20 years ago, he had a heart attack while on the job. He had a stint put in and he kept up with his doctor appointments for years.
Everything was fine he says, so he stopped following up.
“This for me is kind of my kick in the butt to wake me up, I guess, to realize I’ve got to be a lot better,” he said.
Phillippe says people should learn basic CPR and learn how to use an AED. Devora urges people with heart conditions to follow up with their appointments.
Devora expects he’ll be back to work in a few months.
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