Gwinnett bus drivers honored for saving co-worker’s life

Three Gwinnett County Public Schools bus drivers were honored recently for jumping into action when a co-worker was in a life-threatening situation.

The American Heart Association and the Emergency Response Training and Support Services had high praise for  Cindy Johnston, Sandy Purcell, and Dee Walls for helping to save the life of a fellow GCPS bus driver.

"(We) got her on the floor, assessed the situation and she was not breathing at all, so our training kicked it. We worked great as a team and took turns," Johnston told WSBTV.

The incident happened during a training session for bus drivers earlier this month, according to district officials. During the session, driver Felina Canon experienced a seizure, lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Johnson, Purcell, and Walls jumped into action. They moved their co-worker to the floor and administered CPR until paramedics arrived.

“The emergency room doctor said if Cindy, Sandy, and Dee had not jumped in and performed CPR, their co-worker would not have made it,” said  Don Moore, executive director of Transportation. “This is an example of why CPR certification is required of all our drivers and monitors.”

The women reunited for the first time since then at a ceremony Thursday for all county school bus drivers. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when the recounted the story.

"It can save a life. You don't think you'll ever be put in that situation, but you can be, and if you are, you have to know what to do and how to do it," Purcell said.

Doctors said their quick thinking saved Canon's life.

"I was just glad to see them and to know that everyone has been praying for me because I got a pacemaker, so it's going to affect me for the rest of my life, but to know I got a pacemaker and to know they saved my life, I thank God for it," Canon said.

The three heroes were presented with a plaque and their names will be listed on the AHA and ERTSS websites.