A bus driver stops his bus just in the right place when he had a seizure behind the wheel
Parker Ellis said, “If Ronnie would have pulled the brake four houses down I would have pulled into my garage and went about my day.”
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An average morning turned chaotic for a bus driver and the kids on board including his own. He had a seizure behind the wheel, but he happened to stop in front of a nurse’s home and the man jumped into action to save his life.
This is Ronnie Kass’s first year on the route as a St. Tammany Parish Public School bus driver. He said, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Kass says he finally found the right fit. “People go their whole lifetime without finding out what their calling is. These kids are my calling and not me for them, but them for me.”
On the morning of Monday, May 10, the joy Kass finds in being the first school employee the kids see in the morning and at the end of the day could have ended abruptly.
An unusual set of circumstances placed Kass in his bus in Parker Ellis’s path just when he needed him. Kass was driving when he started to shake. He managed to pull the emergency brake before losing consciousness during a seizure.
Ellis said, “It was definitely a lot that could have gone differently in that situation. One little factor here there and Ronnie may not be with us anymore.”
Kass’s bus 373 stopped right in front of Ellis’s driveway. In a neighborhood filled with kids, Ellis says there was no surprise to find a school bus in front of his driveway, but after a while, something seemed a little bit off.
“Just about the time I started to sense something was wrong I saw that one of the kids had opened a side window and was hanging out of it waving his hands,” said Ellis.
Kass said, “I was out when Mr. Parker got on the bus. He saved my life.
Ellis got the kids to open the emergency exit, calmed them down, and used his skill as a nurse anesthetist. He said, “I found Ronnie slumped over. The only thing that was helping hold him up about a foot from the ground was a seat belt. He was foaming at the mouth. He was blue, not breathing.”
Ellis used a move he might use on patients in the hospital. He said, “I went over to Ronnie and wiped his mouth, and I gave him just basically you know what we call a ‘jaw thrust’ that basically just put pressure behind their mandible here and that can open up their airway.”
He happened to have a bag ventilator in his first aid kit which he used to help Kass breathe until paramedics took over.
Ellis says Kass and the kids are the real heroes.
“He felt something major happening, so he pulled the emergency brake. I also found out that’s why the side door was locked. That saved a lot of lives or you know at least injuries at that point cause if he wouldn’t have done that he would end up in my neighbor’s house,” said Ellis.
The kids including Kass’s own son and daughter had already called 911. Elliana Kass said, “I was bawling crying.” His son Landon Kass said the 911 operator had trouble hearing him, but he stayed on the call and tried to get help. He said, “I looked up at a road sign to tell her where we were.”
Kass is beyond grateful to Ellis and all the neighbors and parents that stepped in during the emergency and since. He said, “Somebody saves your life you know you would have been dead, but God sent this guy and a perfect guy too.”
A puzzle that all came together to prevent a tragedy and lay the groundwork for more blessings to come.
Kass was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last fall. He had no history of seizures. Doctors found his cancer spread to his brain resulting in a small tumor that caused the incident. After surgery and treatment, his latest scan is cancer-free.
The families on his route have set up a Go Fund Me account to help until he can get back to the job he loves.
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