THORNVILLE, Ohio — A school bus driver here recently sprang into action when told that one of the students on her bus was choking, applying her training to save his life.
Jean McKeag recalled that on the afternoon of April 27, she was focusing on helping all the students board her bus and finding a seat for a student who doesn’t normally ride the bus. It was then that some of the students told her that another student, first-grader Quade McCance, was choking.
“He sits right behind me. You could obviously tell that he was choking,” said McKeag, who has been a school bus driver for the last seven years. “I got him out of his seat, tried to study what was going on with him, and I just did the Heimlich maneuver gently, just enough to where I got him to gag.” That dislodged what students told McKeag was a piece of WarHeads hard candy.
A teacher’s aide helped Quade off the bus and McKeag called her supervisor, Dale Factor, the transportation supervisor for Northern Local School District, to let him know what had happened and to have Quade’s parents pick him up.
After she finished her route, McKeag called Quade’s parents to make sure he was OK.
“It was very scary,” she said.
McKeag had completed a CPR class that also covered how to administer the Heimlich maneuver just a handful of weeks before the incident occurred.
“I remembered what we went through with the class, and what was on the video, and just put it into play,” she said.
Factor said that the district's transportation department has conducted CPR training twice over the last three years, and in light of this incident, the department may hold the class even more often.
Jessica McCance, Quade’s mother, wrote a letter to the school district expressing her gratitude for McKeag’s quick actions.
“She and the kids on the bus were our heroes that day, and I can’t thank her enough for reacting so quickly and helping Quade like she did,” McCance wrote in the letter. “It takes a village to raise a kid, and I’m so happy our village is Thornville and the Northern Local School District. Today, May 11, we celebrate Mrs. Jean McKeag.”
McCance also gave McKeag a bouquet of a dozen roses and a gift card to Subway that day to thank her.
McKeag credits the students on her bus for helping to save Quade, since they alerted her to the problem.
“I was busy assisting another student, and had I not heard them say ‘Quade’s choking,’ I may not have noticed it right off the bat," she said. "There’s so much going on … you kind of hear, and you’re looking, and you’re trying to make sure that the student you’re occupied with knows they have your attention, but you still have to know what’s going on around you.”