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A lifesaving trip: How one bus operator helped save a life

A lifesaving trip: How one bus operator helped save a life

Photo of Bus Operator Frank Tsai who helped save a life

Being a bus operator is all about timing.

Scheduled times, run times, layover times, route timing points, and then of course – there’s being in the right place at the right time. And Bus Operator Frank Tsai knows all about that.

It started out as a typical early morning shift. The winter air had a bitter cold as the temperatures dipped to a freezing minus five or six degrees celsius. Frank was driving the 408 Brighouse Station that morning when he spotted something on the road ahead.

“I suddenly saw something in the distance that caught my attention. As my bus approached the stop at Williams and Number 4 Road, I quickly realized it was a middle-aged man, face down on the ground.”
Frank pulled over immediately to offer assistance.

He approached the pedestrian and called out to him. He wasn’t responding. Frank immediately called TComm (Transit Communications) on his cellphone. He also dialed 9-1-1 while quickly returning to the bus to try TComm again from the onboard phone.

The 9-1-1 Operator instructed Frank to turn the person on the ground over, so they were face up. “I put on my gloves and walked back to him,” said Frank.

Concerned about the man’s welfare, Frank was nervous to move the man onto his back, but with the aid of the paramedic on the phone, he persevered. “The 9-1-1 Operator walked me through the steps, telling me what I needed to do, so I gently turned him over.”

The Operator also asked Frank if the person was breathing.

“I watched the man closely and noticed he wasn’t breathing, and his eyes were wide open. And, when I turned him over, his body felt warm, so he must’ve passed out right before I arrived,” Frank said as he recalled those harrowing moments.

Richmond Fire-Rescue arrived on the scene and checked the man’s vital signs.
Frank could overhear the conversation between the firefighters and their Captain. “They told their Captain there was no pulse or breath, so they started doing manual chest compressions.”

Frank took a few steps back, allowing the trained professionals to work. During this time, Transit Supervisors Dev Gill and Blake Webb had arrived to provide support.

“I cared about the man and how he was doing,” says Frank. Paramedics also arrived on scene and continued doing CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on the man for 20-25 minutes while using a defibrillator to help revive him.

And then it happened.

He had a pulse and was breathing.

Transit Supervisor Blake Webb was speaking with the paramedics when he received the good news. He relayed the information to the concerned Bus Operator.

“I can’t describe how good it felt to hear Blake say those words to me,” says Frank. “The paramedics loaded the man into the ambulance and departed for the hospital.”

Looking back on that cold February morning, Frank still can’t believe what happened.

“I never expected this,” says the Bus Operator, who will be celebrating nineteen years of service with CMBC this year. “I hope the man is okay. I cross my fingers and pray he’s doing alright.”