Halloween is never a typical day on a bus to begin with but for one bus driver and her students, it’s a day they’ll never forget.
It was early on in Kristin Bredeweg’s usual Friday afternoon bus drop off routine when she was approached by fifth grader, Joey Bonacci, who calmly reported that his friend, Ethan Dahl, was choking and he couldn’t breathe.
Leaving her red lights on, Kristin ran to the back and saw that Ethan was indeed, unable to breathe. She grabbed him into the aisle, wrapped her arms around him and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Nothing happened. Ethan still wasn’t breathing. Kristin lost her mom earlier this year and in a brief moment of desperation she asked her mom for help and gave Ethan one more push. Air rushed into his lungs and he fell back in her arms. He was going to be ok.
Ethan says that he had been enjoying a hard candy before getting on the bus and he thinks a shard of it was what got caught in his throat. Joey knew he was choking, rather than goofing around, because Ethan had been laughing and all of a sudden, he wasn’t making any noise. Ethan and Joey have been friends since third grade and, along with their friend, Isaac England, they are always together on the bus and acknowledge they are good friends.
Kristin radioed into the Transportation office letting them know that Ethan was ok but there had been a medical emergency and asked them to please contact his mom. She told Ethan she wouldn’t leave until he waved at her from the front window before she shakily pulled away.
Kristin had never performed the Heimlich Maneuver and wasn’t sure she was even doing it correctly but she did what she says, any of the JPS bus driver would’ve done. “You love them like they’re your own kids. They’re not just your bus kids. When they’re in my care, they’re my kids. I just did what his mom would’ve done.”
“I’m driving that bus, not because it’s a job, but because I love my job. I stay on my route because I know my families, because it’s relationships built in the community. There’s communication and relationships built between [yourself] and the families you drive for that make it worth sitting in the seat. They know I love their kids like my own.”