March 22 started out as a normal day for David Wampler, Ph.D., associate professor and director of clinical research in the Department of Emergency Health Sciences, part of the School of Health Professions.
He had just asked his 10-year-old daughter to go out to the school bus stop and was quickly cleaning the kitchen before following his daughter’s bus down the road toward 1-10, just south of Boerne. But then he saw something that looked like domestic violence going on near the bus.
“My daughter is on the bus, so I got out of the car to investigate,” he said. He saw Boerne Independent School District bus driver, known to Dr. Wampler only as “Mr. Phil,” assisting a man who was choking. “The man’s wife said that he must have been choking on a breakfast sandwich,” Dr. Wampler said.
“I stayed nearby to make sure everything was going OK and the bus driver was doing the Heimlich maneuver perfectly, but the object was not coming out of the man’s airway,” he said. That’s when Dr. Wampler, a 25-year paramedic, stepped in to assist.
“I relieved the bus driver and continued doing the Heimlich, but the man lost consciousness because his airway had been completely blocked for too long. He slumped and I helped him down to the ground and started doing abdominal thrusts to help dislodge the object,” he said.
Besides saving the man, his other concern was that the man might die in front of all the children on the school bus. On the bus videotape, curious children are heard asking what was happening, and Dr. Wampler’s daughter can be heard saying, “That’s my Dad!”
“Finally, the object came out and the man just sat there for a while trying to regain his faculties, since he had been unable to breathe for several minutes,” Dr. Wampler said.
The bus driver went on to finish his route and Dr. Wampler waited for the Leon Springs Fire Department and the county EMS provider to arrive. “The quick thinking of the Boerne School District bus driver is what helped save this man’s life,” Dr. Wampler said.
Outside of his 25 years of training as an EMT, Dr. Wampler has only had to help someone outside of his EMT role one other time. “I was in high school and someone was installing carpet in my parents’ house. That time it was a heart attack,” Dr. Wampler said.
His takeaway message is that everyone should get some basic First Aid training. “Learn CPR and take a Stop the Bleed class,” he said. “You never know when you will have to help someone, and as was demonstrated here, these skills work.”