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'Guardian angels all over the place:' Man meets bystanders who saved his life at airport

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 19:19:08-05

MILWAUKEE — A man got to meet the bystanders who helped save his life after he collapsed at Mitchell International Airport last month.

Mike Bowe, 65, was heading back from Florida to go hunting, but only remembers waking up in the hospital.

"I thought I was dreaming," Bowe said.

Bowe went into cardiac arrest. What happened next was serendipitous--an EMT and a nurse on his flight saw him on the ground and started doing compressions.

"Your background kind of takes over, your adrenaline takes over, you know you need to do something, and you just do it," said Patrice Startett, a nurse at Aurora Sinai Medical Center.

They say someone grabbed an automatic external defibrilator (AED) and they believed they shocked Bowe at least eight times.

"I remember going home talking to my wife saying, I don't know if this guy's going to make it," said Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff Alex Colon. "Everybody was in the right place at the right time that day. He had guardian angels all over the place."

Crews took Bowe to Aurora St. Luke's Hospital where his wife later flew in to meet him. Doctors found two large blood vessels were blocked. On Nov. 18, Bowe went through coronary artery bypass surgery.

Doctors say Bowe is lucky.

"It just speaks for why there is such a good reason to learn CPR and have defibrillators around," said cardiac surgeon Dr. William Fischer.

According to the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die. The organization says data from 2014 shows that 45 percent of those survive when someone gives them CPR.

No one thought they would ever get to see each other again, but they are happy they got this chance.

"To see him walking here, and be on his own power, and being able to talk," said Pleasant Prairie EMT Marc Lois.

"Very thankful to be here, and very thankful for all these people," Bowe said.

Bowe is set to fly back to Florida for the winter Wednesday.