Coworkers save the life of correctional officer having heart attack

Used CPR and an AED to save a 27-year-old correctional officer having a sudden heart attack


By C1 Staff

SIOUX FALLS — Bren DeBoer was surrounded by CPR-trained staff members when he suddenly had a heart attack while holding down the leg of an uncooperative inmate.

At least 10 people were watching when Officer DeBoer, 27, collapsed at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, according to the Argus Leader.

Though he doesn’t have any memory of the day, waking up later to find himself in the hospital, his coworkers remember it well.

“I heard this strange gurgling sound and realized that Officer DeBoer wasn’t breathing,” said Officer Andy Williams.

At first, his coworkers believed the inmate had injured DeBoer. They concentrated on getting the inmate to a holding unit, but when they returned, they found DeBoer receiving chest compressions from a nurse.

Williams took over the compressions so the nurse could get an AED, which told them that DeBoer needed shocks.

They continued CPR until paramedics arrived.

“We’d just gotten a pulse back,” Williams said.

Warden Darin Young said the incident highlights the life-saving attributes of CPR training and AEDs.

“Ninety percent of people in Brent’s situation never see the ER,” he said.

The prison officers are annually certified in CPR.

Doctors still aren’t sure what caused DeBoer’s heart attack, but he’s told it could have happened anywhere.

“A week before this happened, I was ice fishing with my dad. If this had happened out there, he wouldn’t have known what to do.”

He says he’s grateful for the support he’s received from his coworkers at the prison. 

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