Nova Scotia

Attentive manager helps save N.S. school bus driver who was having stroke

A manager who was dispatching school buses noticed a driver speaking strangely. She was worried he was having a stroke and called 911. Her hunch was correct.

'It was a gut feeling and I chose to react and listen to that'

Selena Ellis was working as a dispatcher on Monday morning. (Submitted by Ernie Smith)

It was a just another Monday morning for Selena Ellis, until it wasn't. 

Ellis, the assistant general manager of the Halifax division of National Passenger Services, was working dispatch for the day and keeping track of the school bus drivers reporting for their shifts.

She noticed one driver hadn't shown up for work. He was usually prompt, so she gave him a call.

"When I called him, he answered his phone, but he wasn't speaking clearly," Ellis said. "I wasn't able to get him to answer any of my questions. They were one-word answers.

Ellis had worked in nursing homes before and knew the signs of a stroke. (Submitted by Selena Ellis)

"I became very concerned, to be honest with you.… I knew the signs of a stroke and that was my biggest concern."

Ellis had previously worked in long-term care homes, so she had some health-care experience. She knew something was wrong and called 911.

Emergency services were dispatched to the bus driver's home. Ellis later found out her hunch had been correct.

"I found out that he had indeed had a stroke and that he was in hospital at the time and stable," she said.

She said her colleague is expected to recover and he is grateful for her quick response.

"I know that he lives on his own and if someone hadn't paid attention … and recognized the signs, he might not have had the health care he needed immediately that was required," Ellis said.

Her employer called her a hero in a social media post, but she feels differently.

"I was doing my job," she said. "And one thing is I'm very compassionate towards our employees. They're very important to me. And I just did what I needed to do. It was a gut feeling and I chose to react and listen to that."

Ellis said the experience reinforced her belief to always listen to her intuition and look out for others.

"We've all gone through a lot through the past three years, so it's very important to pay attention to one another."

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