A Tuscaloosa City Schools teacher is now considered a hero after helping a student who suffered a medical emergency while riding home from school earlier this month.

Ryan Ballard, a teacher at Northridge Middle School who also doubles as a bus driver, was taking his Alberta route home when a student informed him that a female student onboard appeared to be in distress.

"I went to the back of the bus and saw that she was falling in between the seats," Ballard said. "Her lips were turning blue so I knew something was seriously wrong."

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Ballard said he quickly jumped into action, opening the windows and doors and stood the student up to allow her breathing to improve. His students, along with a good samaritan who was driving by, helped him radio transportation dispatch, who then called for an ambulance.

Ballard said despite how he felt in the moment, he remained calm and continued to render aid until the ambulance arrived and was thankful for the assistance he was receiving.

"I saw that her condition was beginning to improve so I didn't have to perform CPR," Ballard said. "I was praying over her and God was at work. I was scared but I couldn't let the students see it. It was a traumatic experience, but I'm glad everyone chipped in to help."

Ballard said the ambulance arrived minutes later. The student was taken to the hospital and has since recovered.

Ron Schappacher, director of transportation for the Tuscaloosa City Schools, said the district's bus drivers are heroes who work daily to safely get students to and from schools but in some instances, are called into action to help in other ways and thanked Ballard for his efforts.

"Ballard acted quickly, and with the help of a good samaritan, was able to assist the student, call for an ambulance, and then wait until paramedics arrived at the scene," Schappacher said. "Our bus drivers do so much for our students, and we are thankful that Ballard was able to help during the medical emergency."

Ballard said he has been a driver on the Alberta route for four years and has requested he not be moved so that he can continue his work on impacting students outside of the classroom.

"I start the day with them and once they get off the bus, I'm with them all day until they go home," Ballard said. "I enjoy being a male role model for them without the pressure of academics while being their driver. This is the purpose God gave me and I'm glad that I get to learn from them as much as they learn from me. As a teacher, you don't get into this profession for the money and there's a pivotal role I play, by checking on them, seeing if they're okay and uplifting them."

Ballard said he does many different things with the students on his route, including having "bus parties" and "Frappuccino Fridays" to reward his students for good behavior. He said this is his way of continuing his impact on students and making the learning experience more engaging.

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