Tomika Busby sat in her car on a September afternoon staring at the palms of her hands, where she could still feel the cracked ribs of the man she saved from cardiac arrest.
The Hilton Head Plantation security officer performed CPR for four minutes on a collapsed guest, awaiting the arrival of EMS as her arms grew tired and her breath labored.
Busby, an 11-year veteran of the plantation, was honored Feb. 27 for her role in the man's rescue, receiving the title of outstanding officer of the year from the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island.
It seemed an unlikely ending when Busby arrived at the medical call Sept. 19.
Outside the Commodore Building, she found a group of relatives and strangers surrounding the victim, who had fallen and rolled under a parked car. When Busby pulled the man out, she was prepared to quickly assess his condition, part of her training as security officer.
Busby says she was shocked when she saw a familiar face.
She and the guest, who was visiting the island from Germany, talked regularly when he went for bike rides. The day the two met, he told her he was on a forced vacation from work because his boss felt he was working too hard.
On that Thursday, Busby quickly registered the man's darkened skin and blank eyes and began to cut off his shirt and shave his chest for defibrillation. The man's relatives, frantic to get closer, crowded Busby and jostled her equipment.
With time running out, she started CPR.
Fortunately, she said, her training and faith helped her focus.
"The whole time, it's just like I was away from my body," she said. "I knew his family meant a great deal to him. I prayed, 'Lord, if there's anything in me to help this man, to get him back to this family ....'"
When the Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division relieved her, rescue workers were able to find a pulse. Soon after the incident, the man returned to Germany to continue his recovery, Busby said.
The security officer keeps in touch with the man's sister, a Hilton Head Plantation resident, and hopes one day to send him a letter -- the notes she wrote on the incident in a journal she keeps of "remarkable moments."
"Just personal reminders, things that make me keep wanting to do what we do," Busby said. "In the end, I'm just grateful this gentleman is back at home."
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.