First Bus has reunited a heroic driver with the passenger whose life he saved, to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day (17 February).
Driver William Bell saved the life of passenger John McCann, 62, by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) back in April 2021, after the latter suffered a cardiac arrest on his journey from Pollokshaws to Glasgow on the no.57 route.
When he was alerted of the incident, William, who has been with First Bus for 11 years and previously worked as a life guard, stopped the journey, requested another passenger call for an ambulance, and alerted his depot. He then performed CPR on John for 20 minutes after he appeared to lose consciousness.
Even after the ambulance arrived, William was asked to continue chest compression for 15 minutes while paramedics set up a defibrillator.
For his actions, William was commended both by the ambulance service and by First Bus. He later reached out to John, who awoke three days later in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital after being placed in an induced coma and sent William a thank-you card. The two men have bonded and been reunited for the first time since the incident happened.
“I’ve had to perform CPR and resuscitation once in my previous job, but never on any of my buses,” William says. “My prior experience helped me to not panic and know how to react in a calm way. I just knew it was my responsibility to save this man. I assessed the situation and knew what to do.
“It was a surreal situation, but I did what was needed. With the help of the passenger with the phone, and the call handler, it was a real team effort and we helped to save John’s life.”
John, who had not suffered any history of heart trouble, says he feels relieved to have been given a second chance, and to have been travelling with someone who knew how to respond. “I was incredibly lucky to have been in a public place, with someone who could respond knowingly,” he says. “I had to express my gratitude, to let him know just how thankful I was to have been on his bus. I feel so grateful, and I’m still amazed that someone would do what William did for a complete stranger.
“I couldn’t believe how emotional he sounded. He sounded grateful and relieved that I had made it and was healthy. I’m so appreciative that someone can care for a stranger like that, it’s a real sign of a truly incredible character.”
Adds William: “The whole thing has been a huge eyeopener. It took me back to my days as a lifeguard and reminded me how important it is to know how to react in these types of situations, especially when you’re working with the public every day.
“You need to know what to do to help those in need. I’ve never experienced anything like this in all my years working on the buses, but I’m so glad I was there to help John.”
John now has a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted, which can perform cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of the heart. He is now back to full health.