'Lifesaver' DeSoto Schools bus driver

DeSoto County Schools bus driver Codi Parks is joined by her supervisor, Director of Transportation Levi Williams, in front of her vehicle at the district’s transportation headquarters in Southaven. Parks assisted a Hernando father in a critical medical issue while driving her route Thursday morning.  

There still is something to be said about being in the “right place at the right time,” and in the case of an emergency medical situation in Hernando this week, it was also “with the right skills.”

As DeSoto County School District bus driver Codi Parks approached the home of Joey Ries and his family on her Hernando route with about 45 youngsters on board early Thursday morning, Ries’ wife rushed to the bus and Parks could immediately tell there were something wrong.

“She seemed to be in distress and I wasn’t aware of the situation at first,” Parks said Friday. “She explained to me something was wrong with her husband and she wasn’t sure if he was conscious or what exactly was wrong with him.”

Parks asked the woman if she had called 911, which she had, and then made sure her charges on the bus were safe. A grandmother had come on the scene and Parks had the grandmother watch the children on the bus while she went inside the home.

Not only was Parks a concerned person; she is also a junior nursing student at the Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis.

“He was breathing and he had a weak pulse,” Parks said. “I did pain stimulation to assess if he was alert and responsive to pain. He was not, so I knew it was critical and I laid him down in preparation for CPR, He was gasping for breath.”

Parks said she continued working in an attempt to wake Ries up as police officers arrived. The pain stimulation efforts continued until the man opened his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths, Parks said. Paramedics then arrived and she turned Ries over to them.

Parks said she was prepared to do CPR if needed, “but I never had to do compression,” she noted.

“With the stimulation, I was able to, in a way, wake his body up and get some oxygen and blood going,” said Parks.

The response Parks made actively shows her calling for nursing, she said.

“I knew in the situation that somebody needed help and I was the best to help at the time,” Parks said. “I had no hesitation as far as what to do. I just knew that he needed help and I knew better than anybody who was there what to do.”

DCS Transportation Director Levi Williams is praising Parks for lending aid and ensuring her bus students were safe in the moment of emergency.

“She made sure the students on the bus were safe on the bus before she exited the bus,” Williams said. “Codi was in the right place at the right time. We have over 400 drivers and she was the one who knows what to do in a situation like that.”

Ries and wife Heather, parents of triplets, are grateful for Parks' quick thinking. Parks rolled Joey Ries over on his side so that he would not aspirate and performed other life-saving measures, just short of CPR. Paramedics soon arrived and took over the situation.

"I do believe had she not been there, things would have probably worked out differently," said Heather Ries, co-owner of Ladybugg Bakery in Hernando. "It was a case of her being n the right place at the right time. We're just happy that she was there. He is alive."

Heather Ries said her husband was still in the hospital. Tests could determine what occurred.

On a Facebook post on Thursday, Joey Ries thanked all the first responders and those who came to his aid.

"It was all a blur but I did catch a glimpse of you," Joey Ries said in the post. "Hernando is lucky to have you guys and girls."

Community Editor Robert Lee Long contributed to this story.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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