Aide LaVay Calhoun and driver Ron Rook were praised for their response to a medical emergency on their bus.
Fast actions as ventilator fails
Ron Rook and LaVay Calhoun
Litchfield Elementary School District #79
Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Quick thinking and effective communication saved the day when a student’s ventilator failed on a Litchfi eld Elementary School District bus.
On the morning of Sept. 7, the Arizona district’s transportation department was short on school bus drivers, so Ron Rook was moved from his regular route to a special-needs route. His aide was LaVay Calhoun, who is normally on that route. There was also a nurse, Andrea Powers, on board.
As the bus was stopping to pick up a student, Rook and Calhoun noticed some commotion in the back of the bus. Powers told Calhoun that they needed an ambulance because a 4-year-old passenger’s ventilator had stopped working. The boy has respiratory failure and uses a wheelchair.
Calhoun relayed the message to Rook. As the aide called 911, the driver notified dispatch of the incident and location.
While they waited for EMS, the nurse operated a bag ventilator. Rook stayed in contact with dispatch, while Calhoun stayed in contact with the 911 operator. And both of them worked together to keep the other students on the bus calm.
It took about seven minutes for EMS to arrive. Calhoun then notified the student’s mother, who came to the scene.
The EMS responders were able to restart the ventilator, and at the mother’s request, the bus team proceeded to transport the student to school for the day.
Jeff Walker, director of the district’s transportation department, which comprises 79 staff members and 64 school buses, said that he is exceedingly proud of how the team responded to the incident.
“They handled the situation so professionally, and their communication throughout the event was excellent,” Walker said. “I’ve been driving for over 10 years, and I don’t know if I could have kept myself together as well as Ron and LaVay did.”
Rook has been a school bus driver since 2008. Calhoun has been an aide since 2009.
The duo’s actions were highlighted in the transportation department’s weekly newsletter, and Walker said that he is planning an award for them at the department’s year-end barbecue, when honors from throughout the school year are presented.
— THOMAS MCMAHON