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Good Samaritan stops runaway bus, gets driver urgent medical care

Two students aboard when driver collapses behind wheel

Sept. 20, 2011

Matt Collins was on his way to a business meeting when he saw a school bus drift aimlessly through the intersection of Elm Grove and Bluemound roads just after 8:30 a.m. Sept. 15.

"It appeared nobody was driving," he said. "I got out and ran up to the bus and figured that I would jump in and stop it."

When Collins threw open the door, however, he found the driver, a 65-year-old Milwaukee man, slumped over without a pulse and two special needs children aboard.

"I stopped the bus and threw it in park," he said. "Another guy ran up behind me, and we pulled him out and started to administer CPR."

An Elm Grove police officer was on the scene within minutes of receiving a 911 call, and used a defibrillator to shock the driver's heart, Police Chief Jim Gage said.

Elm Grove paramedics arrived and took the bus driver to the Wheaton Franciscan Heart Hospital in Wauwatosa while police and bystanders stayed with the children aboard the bus.

"We just kind of tried to entertain them until someone showed up to drive the bus," Collins said.

A relative of the victim, who has not been identified due to health privacy laws, last reported that he was still recovering in a hospital, Gage said.

"In the end, that's all that really matters," Collins said.

In the aftermath of the rescue, Gage credits quick civilian response and top-notch emergency responders with the outcome.

"We have a couple paramedics on the police force so when our cops get there, you're getting higher care," Gage said.

He also added that all the village's officers are, at a minimum, trained to a basic EMT level.

A similar situation unfolded on the evening of July 20 when a 63-year-old Muskego man who was playing tennis at Village Park collapsed.

Again, a civilian immediately started CPR and emergency responders used a defibrillator.

"He was alert and talking before we transported him to the emergency room," Gage said. "Good care from bystanders and fast defibrillator response helped us in both those situations."

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