Prairie Ridge coach saves janitor’s life

Corky Card constantly loses his keys.

The boys varsity basketball coach and Prairie Ridge High School P.E. teacher never remembers where he puts them.

Friday night, they were missing again.

Card and his wife returned to gymnasium, which had emptied following the Wolves’ loss to Huntley, when they noticed janitor Daniel Pauling looked odd.

An avid basketball fan charged with cleaning the school’s gym area, Pauling and Card made fast friends in the few months since Pauling started at the Crystal Lake school.

But on Friday, something wasn’t right. Pauling, 59, was sweating profusely. And within minutes, he collapsed into Card’s arms. His breathing stopped. His heart stopped.

Alex Koss sometimes loses his iPhone.

The senior, who performs during basketball games as the team’s mascot, returned to the gymnasium to look for it.

Card’s wife called paramedics. Koss ran for the defibrillator. Card hooked him up.

Pauling sucked in a huge breath. His heart started beating again.

Paramedics who quickly arrived and described the situation as sudden cardiac death.

“He died. What Corky and our young senior student did — they really did save his life,” said Patti Hie, Prairie Ridge athletic director.

The humble coach says he’s just one of the people who were in the right place at the right time.

“It was amazing — the whole process of how everything lined up,” Card said. “The ambulance driver told me ‘the chain works when the links are all connected.’ You miss a link or they don’t connect — and it probably wouldn’t have ended so well. Everybody did their small part, and it worked out well for everybody.”

Multiple CPR training courses, which are regularly offered by the district, and training with the defibrillator helped, Card said.

“I’m incredibly proud of him and Alex for their actions,” said Principal Paul Humpa. “It takes a lot of courage to do what they did, and they did it without hesitating. They are very humble today, in terms of what they’ve done, and I’m very proud of them both.”

Pauling was released from the hospital Monday and sent home to recuperate, Hie said.

On Monday morning, Card misplaced his keys again.

Fellow staff members jokingly did a well-being check on each other. However, they knew if a sudden emergency did come up, they were in good hands.

“They’re heroes and I couldn’t be more proud of them, and I know the Pauling family is grateful for their actions,” Humpa said.

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