Verona firefighter in the right spot


VERONA – Robert (Rob) and Elizabeth (Beth) Rayburg from Gordon, were recently vacationing with about two dozen family members in Myrtle Beach, S.C., during the week of June 12, had driven their daughter’s boyfriend to the airport.

When they were late returning, one of their nieces joked, “You know them. They’re probably saving someone’s life.”

They were.

Returning from the airport, they saw a car stopped on the opposite side of the highway and a woman waving down traffic.

Rob Rayburg is a member of the Verona, fire department and a mechanic. They went back to offer help.

Tina and John Davis had been visiting Myrtle Beach with two granddaughters, ages 2 and 10, when John suddenly slumped over. Tina steered the car off the road, where a safety feature stopped it.

“He had no pulse,” Rob Rayburg said, “I got him out and started chest compressions.”

Beth Rayburg got Rob’s first responder kit from the car.

“I take it everywhere,” he said.

She began giving breaths on her husband’s cues, praying between breaths. Although not a firefighter, she has taken his CPR course and has worked with him. A Horry County ladder truck arrived with oxygen.

“We got a faint pulse twice and lost it again,” Rob Rayburgsaid. “When the ambulance arrived, we shocked him, and after a few times we got a steady pulse and he started breathing.”

He drove Mrs. Davis to the hospital while Beth followed in the Rayburg’s car. Rayburg feared the worst when they saw an ambulance stopped by the road.

“Ambulances only stop on the way to the hospital if a patient needs shocking,” he said. “But it wasn’t his ambulance. There was a car accident.”

Over the next day or so, Davis was transferred to two other hospitals. The problem was not a conventional heart attack, but a weakness of the heart muscles. Doctors inserted a pacemaker and a defibrillator to regulate his heartbeat. At the end of the week, he was recovering.

Tina Davis said, “All three of the heart doctors who treated him said the CPR was a fantastic job. I’m eternally grateful to the Rayburgs, and they are part of my family now. God put them there when I needed them.”

Rob Rayburg said he considers Tina Davis the real hero, for keeping her head and stopping the car “about the length of a city block from a major intersection.”

Beth Rayburg doesn’t consider them heroes, either, saying, “It’s just in our nature to stop and help. You just do it.”

They waited with Davis at the hospital until family members arrived from Orangeburg, three hours away. During this time, they learned the pair were in Myrtle Beach celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary. The Rayburgs visit the area every year, and the two couples plan to celebrate the Davises’ 33rd anniversary next year.

Rob Rayburg has been a firefighter since 1991, but, he said, “We usually don’t hear the outcomes. This is the first time I found out if someone had survived.”