It was an emotional reunion between a Transport Board bus driver and his Lodge School passenger whom he rushed for emergency care as she fought for air during an asthma attack on April 30.
There were tears of joy when Dale Hall came face-to-face with 13-year-old Allisha Downes for the first time when he ran with her on his back to a nearby doctor’s office to get her help after she fell ill on the school bus he was driving. Downes and her mother Allison Ross joined with some students and teachers today at the Massiah Street, St John school where the driver was showered with gifts for his selfless act.
The touching story, which has gone viral on social media, has resulted in an abundance of accolades for the 38-year-old Hall who today wiped away tears, when he heard the second form student say the words, “he saved my life”.
“I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was on my last breath. So, he actually saved my life,” Downes recalled, as she sat next to Hall in the school’s boardroom.
“I got into the bus and everything was fine until I got to Oistins. It didn’t feel that bad, but then suddenly it started to hurt more so I contacted my mom. But then my best friend who was sitting next to me told the lady who was close to the driver that the girl behind here is having an asthma attack.
“He asked everyone in the bus if they had an inhaler, but they said they didn’t have any and some didn’t know what it was. Then he put me on his back and rushed me into the doctor’s office as quickly as possible,” Downes continued.
He took her to the Randal Phillips Polyclinic in Oistins, Christ Church.
“He saved my daughter’s life that day. I didn’t know what I would do if she didn’t make it that day,” Ross said, as both she and Hall started to wipe away tears from their eyes.
The student’s mother, who could not stop thanking Hall for what he did for her child, said while at home, she received a call from Downes, informing her that she was getting an attack.
The mother said she was thrown into a state of worry, since she had no access to transportation to get to the last of her three children.
“Then I got a call from a family member who is a nurse at Randall Phillips, and she said to me, Allison, I now see this bus man running cross the road with this Lodge child pun he back. And I swear it is Allisha, but I going and check. And when she went and checked, she said Allison it is Allisha. She is having an asthma attack. She said I will help deal with her and I will call you back.
“She called me back and told me ‘you see that bus man, I don’t know how he get she on his back and running. You should have seen it. I was in tears, he did just running’. And she told me whenever you see him, give him a hug and tell him thanks for everybody,” Ross said.
Meanwhile, in a humble tone, Hall said people have been calling him a hero for what he had done but he was just being ‘Dale’.
He said he appreciated the recognition and praise but he believed a supervisor’s request for him to change the route that morning to accommodate some stranded commuters, made it possible for the bus to pass the medical facility where Downes was treated.
“ . . . I saw the medical centre ahead so I did clicking quick from there. I got up and asked if anybody had any inhalers and everybody said no and the same time her eyes didn’t look right. So I said ‘listen, jump on my back’. So now that she jumped on my back, I run out the bus, part the door with one hand and hold her with the next. I knocked on the door, pulled it open real fast and tell everybody come and give this girl some assistance. So then everybody just jumped into action and helped,” Hall recalled.
The former soldier, who spent seven years in the army, noted that he has two children, and would have wanted people to assist them if they needed help.
The driver who said the army, family and members of his Sweetvale, St George community played an important role in shaping him into the man he has become, encouraged all persons transporting members of the public, to always observe their surroundings, a skill which he said would allow them to save someone’s life.
“Listening and seeing a lot of parents over the years loosing their children, isn’t an easy feeling. So I had to do what I had to do. I was at the right place at the right time and everything fall into place so that she could be here today,” Hall said.
Hall was showered with gifts from the school’s management, student body, Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Blades Trophies, and Courts.
He was also presented with a dinner for two from Accra, and the opportunity to participate in a three-month Occupational Health and Safety Course at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Transport Board’s Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager, Lynda Holder said she was not surprised when she heard what Hall did, since he has previously been recognised as an unsung hero for similar acts of kindness.
“Dale would not see a situation happening with any child, and not try to react. That is the core of the gentleman. It has nothing to do with the training; it has nothing to do anything with his history. But the goodness that is in Dale, would always come out,” Holder said.
During morning assembly, Principal Winston Dowrich, said the school could not allow Hall’s actions to go unnoticed, hence the decision was made to first commend him with a congratulatory letter, and invite him to be recognised at morning assembly.
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