Photo by Lisa McWherter
A memorable performance or a top-level athlete can earn the title of hero on the track.
For Dorman High assistants Tariq Caudle and Jeffrey Johns, they will forever be known as just that for a different reason. Because of the two of them working together, one of their athletes now has a second chance at life.
Junior sprinter and hurdler Ray Busby suffered an allergic reaction during a meet on March 8 at T.L. Hanna. Caudle and Johns quickly responded and as a result are having Busby's family singing their praises.
"Ray was on the bus, and he has a nut allergy," said Busby's aunt Holly Bowser speaking on behalf of his family. "He saw something that said strawberry and drank it and turned it over and saw cashews in it. He called his mom and she told him that he needed to go to his coaches. He started swelling and blacking out and told the coaches he was scared. They gave him three EpiPens and did CPR until EMS got there."
Caudle, who is in his fifth year at Dorman, said the situation was dire.
"When he first got to us, he told us that he wasn't feeling well," Caudle said. "He never complains, so we knew something was going on. We didn't know until he was about to pass out that the drink had cashews in it. He didn't have his EpiPen, so I ran to the trainer and jumped on the Gator and we came back. We thought at first he was going to be alright, but he started sweating badly and becoming belligerent. We gave him the EpiPen and three to four minutes later he started to pass out."
Johns, who is in his 11th year with the Cavaliers, said that everyone jumped into action immediately.
"Ray reported to us he was having an allergic reaction," he said. "I called 911, and we rushed to acquire an EpiPen and the trainer administered it immediately. Upon administering the EpiPen, he began to tense up and then passed out. Coach Caudle alertly ordered me to grab his feet. We moved him to the ground from the seated position he was in on the Gator. I said we've got to go, and that was the command to begin CPR. The trainer said 'I've got an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Tariq jumped into action providing CPR. I maintained a focus on Ray checking his vitals and trying to provide a position optimal for his airways to remain open."
"We just want them recognized for what they did," Holly Bowser said. "And they deserve to be."
The scare comes a few months after a similar event happened in the NFL. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game at Cincinnati. Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle, and trainers immediately went into action to save his life. An ambulance arrived on the field, and Hamlin was transported to a hospital where he was treated for several days and then released.
Busby was also taken by ambulance to the hospital, which is located in close proximity to T.L. Hanna. Upon arrival, he was put on a ventilator and remained on it for two days before awakening.
Bowser said that emergency room doctors were impressed with the assistant coaches' response.
"The doctors said he wouldn't be here unless they did what they did," she said.
Caudle said that all coaches go through National Federation of State High School Association Sports courses to prepare for sudden cardiac arrest and heat exhaustion situations. He added that Spartanburg School District 6 requires CPR and first aid training every other year. He rode with Busby in the ambulance and said that the training helped Ray until paramedics could take over.
"It's one of the reasons we were able to jump in and do what we did," Caudle said.
The meet was stopped and the team gathered around Johns to learn about his condition and lift up thoughts.
"I addressed our team in the middle of the field where we prayed for Ray's safety, as well as everyone involved," Johns said. "With the support of the Hanna coaches and administration, the meet was cancelled with the attention of everyone focused on Ray's well being along with that of those affected by the traumatic event. The blessing is that Ray is home safely with his family."
Johns went on to say that without the help of Caudle, Ray may not have made it through.
"I am blessed to know Ray's ok and thankful we could act as a team and provide him with the support he needed in those crucial moments," he said. "So thankful for Coach Caudle who remained calm and acted every step of the way providing medical attention, strong leadership and strength to those around him to provide Ray with the life saving attention he needed. Tariq Caudle is mine and Ray's hero."
Bowser said the family deeply appreciates the coaches and everyone that attended to Ray.
"We just want them recognized for what they did," she said. "And they deserve to be."