'Happens all the time': TTC operator describes helping people in distress
Bus driver says he must stop to help people 'all the time'
The day a TTC operator had to call police to help a nine-year-old riding a bus alone in the wee hours of the morning, another bus driver said the public has "no idea" that helping riders in distress is a daily part of the job.
Dan Annis, who has been an operator with the TTC for five years, said this week that such incidents are a regular part of the job that the public never hears about.
"You have no idea. This stuff happens all the time. Toronto's a big city, it's very diverse and a lot of people play by their own rules," Annis told CBC News on Tuesday.
Annis said he and other operators "go through stuff that the public never hears about. A lot of people think the TTC is heartless, but we go out of our way to help a lot of people and that's just one example."
Annis was referring to an incident earlier this week, when a TTC operator had to call police around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday after a passenger alerted him about a girl alone on the bus as it drove through the intersection of Yonge Street and Adelaide Street.
Police said the girl had been separated from her father on Monday and, due to a language barrier for both father and daughter, the girl went in the wrong direction and the father didn't know what to do when his daughter went missing.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the driver followed TTC protocol, which is to call transit control and then police. He said such incidents occur frequently.
'I felt really good'
Back on May 6, Annis was driving the 35 bus south on Jane Street near Wilson Avenue around 6:30 a.m. when a young girl in obvious distress approached. She told Annis that she had been assaulted and had her backpack and cellphone taken.
"She didn't know exactly what to do and she was a mess. I told her to come aboard and see what we could do to help her," Annis said this week.
"I asked her what she wanted to do, if she needed medical attention. She said no, she just needed to call her parents but she didn't have a phone. So I went into my locker and grabbed my cellphone and we called her parents."
Annis ended up letting the girl stay on the bus as he continued to Jane Station, where he gave her a transfer and she made her way home.
"I felt really good about helping her that way," Annis said.
A passenger on the bus that morning wrote a letter praising Annis's conduct, and the TTC followed up with a commendation for his "professionalism in executing your duties."
Annis said operators regularly encounter people in distress and are forced to make snap decisions on whether to stop and help.
"I've seen people lying flat down on their stomach or their back and they've either fallen or had some kind of medical emergency and I've gone out and said, 'Are you okay?' And they say, 'I've fallen down. Can you please help me out?' It happens all day. It's non-stop in this business."
According to Annis, assaults occur on and off his bus, there are accidents, passengers suffer heart attacks or heat stroke, or people come along who don't have money but need a ride.
He wasn't surprised that his colleague earlier this week immediately called for help and ensured that the nine-year-old girl was reunited with her father.
"No, we're trained very well. When we see something happen, we're right on the phone right away or we're hitting our emergency button, we're getting medical attention here, we're getting police here, we're in contact with control and our supervisors," Annis said.
"It's nice to drive up and down the route and just pick people up and drop them off without something happening. But that's far and few between. It's a tough job."