Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Harris experienced a sudden cardiac arrest.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — It was one year ago when Tamra Harris said she was brought back to life after collapsing at the gym.
“I don’t know what happened. I was having a great day and literally all of sudden dropped dead on the ground,” Harris said.
Harris said she was lifting weights when “the barbell fell over my head. It fell down onto my neck, and I collapsed to the ground.”
Harris had a sudden cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped beating and was in an inefficient rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation or v-fib. If not treated quickly and effectively, v-fib is fatal 100% of the time.
Bystanders at the gym started CPR, 911 was called and Austin-Travis County EMS Commander Joshua Todd was on his way to help.
For an hour, he tried to get Tamra’s heart to beat but he was running out of time and options.
“Luckily, we were successful because we reached the end of the line with what we were able to provide her,” Todd said.
“It was a miracle what they were able to do. They shocked me with an AED … several rounds. Then, they did double sequential defibrillation where they got two sets of pads and double shock you. Lots of shocking going on,” Harris said.
But the most shocking part for her is how it ended.
“They brought me back to life. My doctors say, ‘Clinically, you were dead,’” she said.
One year later, Harris had the opportunity to thank Todd and the gym bystanders for saving her life. It was all in a day’s work for Todd, but this reunion was special.
“This is a hard profession we lose a lot of people, we see terrible things. It’s pretty wonderful to meet somebody you were able to help,” he said.
Harris now has a defibrillator implanted to keep it from happening again. She was proudly wearing a shirt with a picture of a heartbeat flatlining with the words — “Annnd … I’m back!”
“They brought me back to life and made it so I can live a fulfilling life,” Harris said.