Local school bus driver saves a life

May 30, 2013   ·   0 Comments

For local school bus driver, Sarah Blake, Monday, May 13th, began like any other day, but all that would soon change when a normal day turned into a life saving day both Blake and ten year old, grade four student of Primrose Elementary, Amy Callegari would never forget.

Having become a bus driver as recently as April 2013 for Stock Transportation in Orangeville, Blake had taken part in the mandatory CPR and First Aid Training Program that Stock Transportation pride themselves in, and in tribute to that excellent training and the quick thinking Blake, a life was saved.

While enroute to Primrose Elementary, Blake made a usual stop and as students entered the bus, another student rifled through those entering, getting the attention of Blake who quickly noticed Amy Callegari was in distress, clutching her throat.

Blake quickly asked, “Do you have allergies?”

Amy shook her head in a “No,” response.

“Can you breathe?”

Amy once again shook her head in a “No,” response.

“Is there something in your mouth?”

Quickly Amy nodded affirmatively and Blake jumped into action calling dispatch, sensing urgency as Amy’s facial color was turning blue. Blake pulled the bus over, and brought Amy outside where there was enough room for her to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. Time was of the essence for Blake as the first two attempts made no headway and finally with the third attempt the child was able to express the hard candy which had obstructed her airway.

“It all happened so quickly, within two to three minutes. I definitely see the job differently now and I am even more aware. I’m a mom too and over time these kids on the bus become so familiar, they are like your own kids. Until now I never realized exactly how many ways this job can impact student’s lives. Life really happens so quickly,” said Blake.

Blake acknowledged that her main concern up to this point was being able to help a child who may suffer an allergic reaction while on the bus, which she is also trained for.

“I just feel so thankful and I am so happy it went the way it did. It’s all very emotional, even now,” said a very humble Blake crediting her ability to save the child’s life to the First Aid and CPR Training Program Stock Transportation provided.

Stock Transportation Operations Manager, Jill Mather had this to say “All drivers are mandatorily CPR and First Aid Training Certified. Following that, we have monthly training meetings. Sarah’s ability to remain calm, put her training into effect, maintain composure and structure for the other children on the bus makes her a shining example of a true hero. In all of my ten years with this company and I have driven a bus, I have never heard of this particular situation, but Sarah proved the training works.”

And Stock takes this training seriously. “Bus drivers are key members in society. We are the first to see the kids on the way to school and the last to see them at the end of their school day, ” commented Mather.

The highest award offered by Stock for such heroic acts, is the Challenge Coin, a concept so prestigious, its history is synonymous with heroic acts of bravery by soldiers during war.

Mather proudly and admirably said, “We carry precious cargo. Sarah is a hero.”

Blake acknowledged she does not “feel” any different and wouldn’t refer herself as a hero during the interview, but had this to say about receiving the award, “This is a huge honor. It’s very surreal. This is so very emotional for me.”

Andrea Callegari, Amy’s mother had this to say, “I was able to meet Sarah at the Award Ceremony where I gratefully presented her with flowers.  The whole situation is so scary and I am so thankful and grateful for the training Stock provides its employees. I’m so happy Sarah was able to jump in and knew what to do.”

Callegari, like most parents, never really put much thought into the responsibilities of a bus driver or the challenges they may face each and every day.

“I’m just amazed about how many different situations bus driver’s get into. I don’t think most parents realise how difficult and important the job is and I am so grateful for all the First Aid Training. Before this day, I never thought even once about a child choking on a bus.” Callegari commented.

Although every school reinforces the, “NO Food On The Bus” rule, few children can actually make the distinction between what is food in their opinion and what is not. Candy for most children does not fall into the food category and is often an easy mistake, even for adults.

For Blake, her new profession has begun with a life changing experience, and for all who never thought about the importance of a bus driver’s role in our community, we gratefully have living proof in Amy Callegeri. It really does take a village to raise a child. It’s comforting to know the likes of Sarah Blake live in our village!

By Alex Sher




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