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Bus driver who helped freezing man says it was the Edmonton thing to do

An Edmonton Transit Service driver who stopped his bus to help a freezing man who had spent the night outside as temperatures plunged is being lauded.

'It really scared me because his pulse was so weak on both of his wrists, I could barely feel it'

Derek Bailey used his EMS training to check the vital signs of a man he found freezing in a bus shelter on Sunday morning. (CBC/Scott Neufeld)

An Edmonton Transit Service driver who stopped his bus to help a freezing man who had spent a frigid night outside is being praised for his kindness and quick thinking.

But Derek Bailey said his actions were just the Edmonton thing to do.

"I saw a man who was really in trouble," Bailey said on Monday. "He didn't look healthy. He didn't look in a position of safety. At that particular moment, he looked in a position of harm. And that's not OK." 

"We as Edmontonians are one city, and I think it's our responsibility to help out where and whenever possible."

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It was Bailey's first day driving Route 151 from Castle Downs to King Edward Park. As he pulled up to a bus stop in the Lauderdale neighbourhood around 9:15 a.m. Sunday, he saw a man slumped over on the bus bench between two shopping bags.

Bailey urged the man to get on the bus, and quickly determined he was not well.
Derek Bailey pulled over his bus to help a man in the Lauderdale neighbourhood in north Edmonton. (CBC/Scott Neufeld)

"It looked like he was more than half frozen," said Bailey, 36, who once worked as an emergency medical responder.

"He could barely make a full sentence because he was shivering so much. He could barely communicate. He couldn't even squeeze my hands to test his grip strength. At one point, it really scared me because his pulse was so weak on both of his wrists, I could barely feel it."

Bailey checked the man's vital signs and determined he needed medical help. Though the man initially insisted he wanted to go to Boyle Street Community Services downtown, Bailey convinced him to accept help from paramedics.

His first-aid training has come in handy many times during his work as a bus driver, Bailey said, whether to help someone who has fallen, someone who walks onto the bus with an injury, or reports feeling like they're having a heart attack. He always carries a pair of Latex gloves with him, just in case he needs to help.

"People ask me what it's like to drive a bus. And a lot of times it's like being on an ambulance again. We as transit operators, we see a lot of what occurs in a city on a day-to-day basis."

Bailey's actions were noted by other passengers on the bus who contacted his bosses, and also the media.

He was surprised to wake up to read about his experience in the news. He was also relieved to learn the man he helped is now recovering in stable condition in hospital.