On Thursday afternoon, October 31, Arrowhead Transit driver Glenn Westing of Pine City was concerned when one of his passengers called up to him that another passenger was having a seizure.
Glenn normally drives the Pine City Dial-A-Ride route but on occasion he takes people with special needs to their place of work. He knows each one by name and by personality. He knows how each one will greet him each day. Glen also knew that seizures were just one of the things this passenger had to deal with each day.
“How is she doing?” he asked.
“Everything’s fine now,” he was told. But Glenn didn’t want to take any chances so he called into Arrowhead Transit’s dispatch. “I’m going to need permission to deviate from my regular route,” he told them. “I have a passenger here who needs to be brought to her home right away.”
Dispatch gave him permission. But as Glenn was pulling onto the highway, a very scared voice called out that this woman who had been having a seizure had now stopped breathing.
Glenn immediately pulled over to the side of the road. He went back to where she was and felt for the carotid pulse in her neck. There was none. He checked for breathing. Her chest cavity wasn’t moving. He gave her a hard pinch. She was totally unresponsive.
He grabbed his radio and told dispatch to call 911. Then he and one of the passengers lowered the woman from the upright bus seat and on to the floor. He started CPR with full chest compressions and mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Some of the other passengers were crying and began to move about. “Everybody needs to remain seated. Everybody needs to stay on the bus,” Glenn commanded. “We are on a very busy highway.”
He kept on with the CPR which seemed like forever to him, but he thinks was probably about 3 minutes. Then the she started to cough…she was breathing! Glenn brought up his head and loudly said, “Amen!” He asked her for her name and she responded correctly.
Deputy Sheriff Tom Meier arrived less than five minutes after the call went out. He came onto the bus to assess the situation. Glenn told him what had happened. As they were talking, they both saw something was still very wrong. The woman had stopped breathing again. Deputy Meier started chest compressions. Glenn did the mouth to mouth resuscitation. Again it seemed like forever, but again the woman began breathing on her own. A relieved Glenn asked her how she was doing. “Good,” she told him.
The Pine City Medical Team arrived. Glenn assisted them with getting the woman onto a stretcher for transportation to Grantsburg Hospital.
“You saved her life twice,” Deputy Meier told Glenn.
“Hey, thanks for your help sir,” said Glenn.
Dispatch stayed on the radio during all this time. They asked if Glenn needed some help getting the other passengers back to their homes.
“Yeah, you better send another bus,” Glenn told them.
Another Arrowhead Transit driver, Bob Pitzen from Pine City got on his radio. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he told Glenn.
When the other bus arrived, Glenn and Bob assisted the passengers who lived north of Hwy 70 onto the other bus. “Everything is all right,” Glenn told them, one by one. “She’s going to be fine.”
Much to everyone’s amazement, the passenger was back on the bus two days later; off to work as usual.
Glenn learned CPR while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is a retired electrician of the IBEW. As an electrician he also received CPR training. The only other time he used CPR was 36 years ago on his grandfather.
“I am so impressed with Glenn,” said Voni Smolke, Regional Manager for Arrowhead Transit. “He saved this young lady’s life because he knew exactly what to do. Also, he had the presence of mind to make sure the other passengers on his bus remained calm and safe.
“I knew when I hired Glenn that he would make a great driver for Arrowhead Transit. This incident is not the only one where he has proven me right. He’s so good to his riders. They all know he really cares for them,” said Voni.