Leader Blues

Friday, December 18, 2009

TOP STORY >> Heroic Sylvan Hills principal honored

Sylvan Hills High School principal Danny Ebbs was declared a hero by the Red Cross after he gave CPR to a motorcycle accident victim, saving the man’s life. 

Leader staff writer

Sylvan Hills High School principal Danny Ebbs said he didn’t hesitate for a moment to help when he came upon an injured man lying facedown in the interstate on a blistering hot day last July.

He and a buddy were driving down I-540 near Fayetteville on their way back from a golf tournament – “to relax a little before school started” – when they saw the man sprawled in the middle of the highway beside a demolished motorcycle. It looked like a hit-and-run. Cars were swerving wildly, and a crowd had gathered on the shoulder, gawking.

“There was a huge line of cars on the shoulder, and no one was aiding the man,” Ebbs recounted. “Women were crying. There was a lot of observing, but no one was helping. I told Bill we needed to stop and see what we could do.”

Ebbs’ swift action in administering CPR is credited with saving the man’s life. He and his friend Bill Barnes were among 24 Arkansans who on Nov. 3 were honored at the American Red Cross’ annual Faces of Heroism celebration in Little Rock.

Ebbs claims that he did what anyone else would do, if they had the necessary expertise in first aid and CPR. As a former coach and physical-education instructor at Henderson State University and Arkansas Tech, he was required to know both. So, as Barnes directed traffic, Ebbs assessed the man’s vital signs and injuries – a broken arm, broken leg and a neck so swollen that the man was barely breathing. At the hospital, it would be determined the man also had six broken ribs and a punctured lung.

He spent five days in intensive care.

“I cut the strap on his motorcycle helmet to open up passageways and got his helmet off, then a retired nurse stopped,” Ebbs said.

Together, they rolled the very large man over so that Ebbs could begin CPR.

“At that point, he had no pulse,” Ebbs said.

The nurse cradled the man’s head in her lap while Ebbs performed CPR. Then emergency vehicles began arriving, as Ebbs finished a second set of compressions.

“By the time he was loaded in the ambulance, he was breathing on his own,” Ebbs said.

“We talked about what happened all the way back to Little Rock,” Ebbs said.

Looking back on that day, Ebbs says he acted without “a second thought.” He insists that what he did was nothing special or out of the ordinary.

“I am not an exception; I feel like a lot of people would do the same thing,” he said.

Exceptional or not, Ebbs’ actions saved the man’s life.

“I got a call that night from his wife; she told me, ‘You just saved eight children’s grandfather.’”