When you hear a story like this, it serves as a reminder that learning CPR is not only a great thing to do, but could mean the world of difference to someone when you least expect it. In this case, it was Joyce Gregory, 60, who is alive today thanks to the efforts of two bus drivers.
Driver Debby Kerr had just stepped off of the bus momentarily when she heard Joyce Gregory yell from on board, “I need help. My heart. My heart.” That’s when Kerr sprang into action. She quickly contacted her dispatcher to get emergency response, and went back to check on Gregory. “Her eyes were already rolling back and her head was dropping. I knew this lady was in trouble right then and there,” Kerr said.
A mentally challenged man, who is a regular rider, helped her keep Gregory from falling into the aisle, but soon realized that she was going to need more help until medical responders arrived. She knew that Coach Operator Donna Wright would be arriving shortly on her bus route, momentarily, and dispatched an oncoming passenger to summon Wright.
Working together, Kerr and Wright gently placed Gregory onto the floor of the bus and began CPR. Kerr hadn’t had a CPR class in 25 years, and never had to perform it on a real person. “I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, if you’re ever going to answer a prayer, I need your help right now.’” Wright was CPR certified about four years ago, and it was the first time she had put the training into practice as well.
They continued working on Gregory, who was unresponsive. Kerr said that the few short minutes they continued with CPR seemed like hours. Emergency personnel arrived and took over the reviving efforts. They transported Gregory to Bronson Methodist Hospital.
“I just kept thinking, ‘My God, I’m the last one she looked at and spoke to,’” Kerr recalled. “I’m an emotional person and we were under the impression she didn’t make it. I went through the whole weekend praying.”
“It was really disheartening to think that she had passed away that close to the holidays,” Wright added.
The drivers didn’t know if their efforts had been successful or not, but it didn’t look very good to them. The following Monday, Metro Transit attempted to find out the woman’s name, and where the agency could direct its condolences. Transit director Bill Schomisch found out that she was in the hospital, scheduled for surgery.
Kerr and Wright shared the credit in helping to save Gregory. The Oshtemo first-responders on the scene also took the time to make sure the two drivers had not been traumatized by the experience. “The good Lord was looking after all of us; He had His hand right there,” said Wright. Kerr added, “Something good came the end of that day. We weren’t alone in that bus. I feel very blessed.”
Gregory is recovering from triple-bypass surgery, according to her sister Michelle Gipson. She says that Gregory “loves poetry, singing and keeping people laughing.” They are among 14 siblings.
The family plans to have Kerr and Wright to dinner and some hot-tub time. Gipson, Wright and Kerr also plan to take a CPR training class.