Gazette: Janesville Bus Drivers Honored by Mercyhealth for Helping Heart Attack Victim

If not for two Janesville Transit System bus drivers who followed proper protocol, Ron Joerth might not be alive today.

At Monday’s Janesville City Council meeting, Mercyhealth officials recognized bus drivers Dan Decker and Eric Thompson for their quick thinking. Their deft handling of an emergency health situation helped Joerth survive a heart attack that could have killed him, said Eric Abbott, chest pain program coordinator at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville.

 Last month, Joerth felt chest pain after he got off Thompson’s bus at the transfer center at 123 S. River St. He told Decker, who had pulled his bus behind Thompson’s and was on his way to lunch.

Decker told Thompson about Joerth’s problem, and Thompson radioed dispatch to send an ambulance.

“Some things are more important,” Decker said.

Decker stayed with Joerth while Thompson made the call, and within minutes, paramedics were on the scene.

“Drivers might not always have a cellphone with them, so we just use our radio system,” said Rebecca Smith, transit director.

An emotional Joerth profusely thanked the two bus drivers at Monday’s city council meeting.

“I can’t stress it enough,” he said between sobs. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today to thank them.”

The Janesville Transit System has procedures in place for emergency situations, and Decker and Thompson followed them, Smith said.

“We work with vulnerable populations,” she said. “We work with people who might have disabilities and health concerns that might not allow them to drive.”

 Decker and Thompson said they are thankful they had the training necessary to respond calmly and quickly.

“Definitely getting the proper training helps make us feel comfortable,” Decker said.

Coincidentally, the council also passed a resolution recognizing next week as Emergency Medical Services Week. For his part, Joerth also thanked the paramedics who responded to his heart attack and Mercyhealth for treating him.

Janesville bus drivers are the “eyes and ears” of the public, and they regularly report problems such as low-hanging tree branches, spouting water, big potholes and other issues, Smith said.

“I think what Eric and Dan did is a perfect example of the care our drivers take with the customers we serve,” she said. “It’s kinda all in a day’s work.”

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