CRYSTAL LAKE – All Corky Card had with him was years of school-sponsored emergency response training when he saw Daniel Pauling lose consciousness inside the Prairie Ridge High School gym on Friday.
The men’s varsity basketball coach felt odd being called a lifesaver, crediting his training instead for saving the life of Pauling. The 59-year-old janitor was clinically dead from a sudden heart attack Friday before being revived by Card.
“A lot of things went well at the right time,” Card said. “You never know where you are going to be, and you never know what’s going to happen. It was important to have that training.”
The story about what transpired to save Pauling’s life inside the Prairie Ridge gym is a classic tale of good Samaritans springing into action during a urgent crisis.
Students and parents had long left the school for the night, following an evening slate of basketball games. But Card, who has a penchant for forgetting his keys, misplaced them again Friday.
His wife went to look for the keys inside the gym and as Card was following behind, he heard his wife ask Pauling if he was feeling well. Pauling was responsive but sweating heavily while resting on the bleachers, Card said.
The two have known each other since Pauling started working at the high school a few months ago. Card was checking Pauling’s pulse when the janitor’s eyes started to roll back. He collapsed into Card’s arm.
Meanwhile, Alex Koss, a Prairie Ridge senior, entered the gym to look for his iPhone that he misplaced during the evening’s events. Koss, who dons the school’s mascot outfit, had done a performance for the game, and he thought he left his phone in the gym.
Card yelled at Koss to get the defibrillator at the other end of the gym. The three charged the device and shocked Pauling once.
“I pushed the button, and we stood back, and he jumped like you see in all the movies,” Koss said.
Using his school training, Card then performed CPR. giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.
Moments later, Pauling was revived. The paramedics arrived shortly after to take Pauling to Centegra Hospital – McHenry.
Card rode in the ambulance with Pauling and didn’t leave the hospital until early Saturday morning, said Jeff Pauling, who is Daniel Pauling’s son. Card and his wife came back the next day to check on Card’s coworker.
“Just the fact that the coach of the school reacted that way, astonished me,” Jeff Pauling, 26, said. “He saved my dad’s life. We can never thank him for what he has done.”
Daniel Pauling has been recovering smoothly at Centegra. He is expected to be released today, Jeff Pauling said.
• Reporter Emily K. Coleman contributed to this report.