Tri-Cities Bus Driver to Receive Award, Talks Drug Crisis
A Ben Franklin Transit bus driver will receive an award by the state today for rushing to the aid of a woman suffering from a drug overdose.
It happened at the Three Rivers Transit Center in Kennewick over the summer.
"And I had a man run over to my bus and he says, ma'am, this lady over here is not breathing," Vanessa Walsh said. "I just grabbed my phone. And I called dispatch."
Knowing it would take time for help to arrive, Walsh sprang to action. She observed the woman making gurgling noises. Her skin was gray and there was no pulse.
"So, I followed her diaphragm up to her heart and started compressions on her and then start feeling for a pulse," Walsh said. "And I thought to myself, you know little one, you are not going to die today. And then every time I would stop compressions, I would feel a little bit of a pulse, but then she would start gurgling again and it would go erratic."
Emergency responders arrived and administered Narcan, a drug designed to reverse the effects of drug overdoses.
"And she sat up, but then she went right back down. I don't even know if she made it or not. But yeah, it was a crazy day." Walsh said.
Walsh trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT) but never performed CPR. She says her training and instincts kicked in.
"I just did chest compressions, you know, trying to get the heart moved, keeping the heart moving and to see if there was anything coming but she needed the Narcan, very badly." Walsh said.
Walsh works the early shift. She starts her route before 6am. Every day she sees the impact and toll today's hard drugs such as fentanyl play on abusers.
"Every single street corner. There's Clearwater and highway 395. They're so high out there and young. There's a kid out there. That kid can't be more than 21 years old and just got blue underneath his eyes and can't even stay awake to beg for the money. It breaks my heart," Walsh added. "The drugs that they're giving these people today, trying to get off these things is almost impossible. They're just so bad that it's completely changing the way they walk, the way they act." Walsh said.
Walsh will be awarded the Above and Beyond Award by the State Transit Insurance Pool today (10/12).
“Vanessa’s care and compassion for others shine through daily,” said BFT General Manager Rachelle Glazier. “She was destined to be at the right place at the right time on July 13. Ben Franklin Transit is proud to have Vanessa as a part of the BFT family.”
The presentation will be held at 6pm the Benton County Administration Building at 7122 W. Okanogan Place, Building E, Room 303, in Kennewick.
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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster