TOMS RIVER, N.J. — Manchester Township School District (MTSD) bus driver Diane Courter performed CPR on a 2-year-old child last month, saving her life.
MTSD Transportation Supervisor Val Varga said Courter and a friend were driving home on Feb. 15. Upon entering a traffic circle in Lakehurst, N.J., they saw a car on the shoulder of the road and a man standing over a small child lying on the ground. The man was making waving motions, suggesting he needed help.
When Courter and her friend stopped to assist the man, Courter noticed that the child was turning blue and was not breathing, so she performed CPR. Her friend called 911.
By the time police officers and paramedics arrived, the child was breathing.
Due to privacy requirements, details about the child and what occurred up to the point when she stopped breathing were not available. However, Varga did receive word that the child has recovered. “My secretary’s daughter is an emergency room head nurse, and she told us [that the child is OK],” Varga said. “We also found out that the child’s father speaks very little English, which is why he was waving frantically for help, but he has not responded to our requests for further information.”
Courter has driven school buses for 30 years, the last five of which she has spent at MTSD driving special-needs buses.
CPR training is mandatory for all special-needs bus drivers and aides at the district. “We’re transporting students with a lot of different conditions, so I decided it would be a good idea for them to be prepared in the event that some surprises come up,” Varga said.
The transportation department utilizes the training resources at either the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, whatever is available in August when the drivers and aides renew.
Officials from one of these organizations come to the department and perform two courses — new employees take a full CPR course, and employees who have already been trained take an annual refresher.
Training aside, Varga said Courter’s actions last month are characteristic of her. “If somebody needs help and Diane gets an inkling of it, she’s going to do everything she can to help that person. She has a big heart, and she’s a wonderful person.”