SAPD airport officer reflects on his own near-death experience after Damar Hamlin’s sudden cardiac arrest

Officer said automated external defibrillator saved his life, encourages people to get trained

SAN ANTONIO - – As Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after collapsing on the field Monday night, an SAPD airport officer is reflecting on the time he survived his own sudden cardiac arrest.

“I saw the replays the next morning and said, ‘I’ve been there,’” Officer Collis Boone said.

Officer Boone’s traumatic experience happened almost 10 years ago while on the job at the San Antonio International Airport.

“August 31, 2014. I was standing right over there directing traffic with another officer, and my heart stopped,” Boone said.

Officer Boone’s sudden cardiac arrest was captured on camera. The video shows him collapsing to the ground.

“CPR was started right away. Luckily, there were passengers around. The truck that was right in front of us had a respiratory therapist in it. Another officer ran inside to get one of the aides, and a doctor and her EMT husband saw that and said, ‘Maybe we should go follow him,’” Boone said.

Boone’s been a CPR and AED instructor since 2011. It was ironically an officer he trained who saved his life that day.

“I taught him how to do CPR, and he does it on me for the first time,” Boone laughed.

He’s come to terms with what’s happened but said the scariest thing is that he’d never had one symptom suggesting he had a heart problem.

“They did genetic testing to find out what was wrong and they still couldn’t find a reason for it. My cardiologist says it’s one of those things we don’t know,” Boone said.

He’s now on medication and has an internal cardiac defibrillator.

Boone’s and Hamlin’s experiences have shown that sudden cardiac arrest can happen unexpectedly, which is why it’s crucial to have automated external defibrillators nearby.

The San Antonio International Airport has AEDs all over. There are red and white signs throughout the buildings showing where the defibrillators are located on the walls.

The airport defibrillators were just replaced with an upgraded model that coordinates better with EMS technology, making it easier for paramedics to take over when they arrive.

Boone said the defibrillator is undoubtedly what saved his life. He encourages those hearing his story to take a few minutes to learn how to use an AED.

“Training on a defibrillator can take five, 10 minutes. There’s pictures on them. There’s cartoons on the pads, on where they go, how to turn it on. And the machine is going to tell you what to do, whether to shock, not to shock. It’s really simple,” he said.

He hopes the community will find ways to install more AEDs across the city.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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