COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands teenager fell into cardiac arrest during a game of basketball, but it just so happens that a group of Columbia firefighters were close by.
Josh Boyd is the quarterback for the Richland Northeast High School football team.
He was playing basketball with friends, along with a group of Columbia firefighters at the Sonny’s SportsPlex in Columbia when the Boyd suffered a heart attack.
The group of first responders who were there at the time tell WIS-TV that they had just met Boyd moments before the attack. The firemen say it was only second nature to step in and help the teenager in whatever way they could.
It’s not uncommon for this group firefighters to meet up after work for a workout through a game of basketball.
“We can kind of unwind. We can fellowship. Also, it’s a way to keep our cardio up for the job itself,” said Columbia Fire Captain, Kareem Spain.
Wednesday was their first time trying out Sonny’s SportsPlex.
Captain Spain said, “Most of the time it’s only fireman that’s playing. So, it was just fireman that was playing initially. Approximately an hour later, it was a group of five young guys that came in. Josh was in this group.” The veteran firefighter says it was clear the teens were athletic and that, “They had a very good team. They was shooting ‘lights out.’ They was a lot of younger guys. So, with us older guys, we knew that we was up against stiff competition. So, they was giving us a run for the money.”
Minutes into this game of the “older” team versus the “younger” ones, Captain Spain said, “Josh went down.”
Firefighter, Kiah Thomas, was there playing basketball too.
“We was basically expecting him to hop back up. Once he didn’t hop up, we basically knew he was a seizure at that moment and we just sprung into action.”
These off-duty firemen didn’t waste any time getting back on the job.
“We basically took Captain Spain’s lead and just allowed him to basically organize who did what and what went there and make sure we could do whatever Josh needed in that particular moment,” said Thomas.
Spain said he told his men to, “immediately monitor his airway, make sure he keeps a pulse, and at that time I knew it was a very serious condition.”
The men dialed 911, while Captain Spain performed chest compressions on Boyd.
“When you see a young guy – 17-years-old – go down, it’s not something that happens on a regular. Maybe an older person like me, maybe, but for him, we knew that it was something serious” said Spain.
The first responder said they had never played basketball at that gym before, but he’s glad to have been there that day.
“Those guys could have played anywhere that day, but this our first time playing at this gym and I think it’s just the grace of God that we was at the right place at the right time, and I was just glad we was there,” said Captain Spain.
Boyd spent Wednesday night in Palmetto Health Richland before being transferred to MUSC in Charleston, where he is scheduled to have surgery, Friday.
The following are the names of the firefighters who assisted Boyd at the gym:
Fire Captain Kareem Spain
Firefighter Kiah Thomas
Engineer Arthur Mitchell
Senior Firefighter Jonathan Dukes
Senior Firefighter Stephan Sims-King
Firefighter Kiante Curenton
Firefighter Caleb McLaughlin
Firefighter Marcus Pee
Firefighter Andrew McClaine
Firefighter Sadarius Thomas
Firefighter Keith Stokes Jr.
Senior Firefighter Ryan Jefferson
Statement from Mr. Gary Fulmer, Richland Northeast Athletic Director:
“Josh Boyd, the quarterback of our football team, is undergoing a procedure to address a heart condition at a medical facility in Charleston.
As we continue to support his family and pray for his recovery, the Richland Northeast Varsity Football team will honor their team captain at tonight’s game at South Pointe.
Boyd is a junior at Richland Northeast High and is also a member of our school’s basketball team. Students have already demonstrated their concern and compassion for Josh and his family by planning fundraisers to help with medical costs.”
The Richland Northeast family appreciates the community’s concern for our student-athletes.