South Kitsap School District employees recognized for saving bus driver’s life

Five South Kitsap School District employees — including four bus drivers — were recognized at Tuesday’s school board meeting for providing CRP and helping to save the life of a longtime bus driver last month.

Five South Kitsap School District employees — including four bus drivers — were recognized at Tuesday’s school board meeting for providing CRP and helping to save the life of a longtime bus driver last month.

At about 5 p.m. Jan. 26, bus driver Beth Stringer suffered a cardiac event at the bus barn, according to Jay Rosepepe, SKSD director of transportation.

He said two of the bus drivers found Stringer in the bus barn lounge.

“Two of the drivers (Sandy Erickson and Lorette Mehs) immediately started doing CPR, while bus driver Jim Westermann went to retrieve the AED (automatic external defibulator),” Rosepepe said.

Erickson said that Stringer wasn’t breathing when she collapsed.

“There was very shallow breathing,” Erickson said at Tuesday school board meeting. “We finally got her on the floor and there was nothing — no pulse, nothing. She was starting to turn blue.”

“We immediately went into action,” she said.

“We had her shocked within a minute or minute and a half,” Westermann said.

“We teamed up,” Erickson said. “We were in sync. It was the best situation ever.”

Rosepepe said another bus driver, Kathy Woods, was relating information to transportation dispatcher Monica Mulligan, who was in contact with from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue emergency personnel.

“It was important to have somebody between what was happening in the lounge and being able to talk to the 911 operator at the same time,” Rosepepe said. “Monica could leave he post and Kathy was intricate in relaying the information.”

He said Pam Rowland, SKSD’s assistant transportation director, went outside the bus barn to make sure SKFR crews arrived at the correct place.

“We are so proud of you and couldn’t have been more grateful, not just for the training but for jumping into action,” SKSD superintendent Michelle Reid said.

SKFR arrived about 5:04 p.m., according to Rosepepe.

He said all SKSD bus drivers are CRP certified.

“The Office of Public Instruction (OSPI) doesn’t require it, but the district does which I think is great,” he noted.

Rosepepe said Stringer is in a rehabilitation facility.

Erickson said Stringer is back to normal, but has a slow recovery ahead.

“She is back,” she said. “Everything is perfect and there is no damage.”

Reid said it was a “miracle” and that Stringer called from her hospital bed the following day to call in sick.

“We have such a dedicated staff,” Reid said.

All five transportation employees, along with SKFR Battalion Chief Mike Wernet, were presented letters of recognition from school board president Chris Lemke and school board member Greg Wall.

Also during the meeting, two East Port Orchard Elementary teachers — Jennifer Hogan and Laurie Burrer — received a “NIB” award.

In a letter, EPO principal Paul Hulbert said his school had a medical emergency last month and that Hogan and Burrer “stepped in and made sure the person was taken care of calmly and professionally.”

“Both made quick and accurate decisions and coordinated with emergency services as they were en route and once they arrived at the building to ensure the best possible outcome,” Hulbert said.

He said the incident took place in the lunchroom just as lunch was starting, but other school personnel were able to clear students from the area.

“This was really frightening for some of the children,” Reid said.