Bus driver rushed to help woman collapsed on sidewalk as other motorists passed by

·3 min read
Shylow Dustin, left, had a chance to thank Calgary Transit driver Jean Paul Pouliot on Wednesday at the very spot where he came to her rescue after she had collapsed on the sidewalk last week. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)
Shylow Dustin, left, had a chance to thank Calgary Transit driver Jean Paul Pouliot on Wednesday at the very spot where he came to her rescue after she had collapsed on the sidewalk last week. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)

Shylow Dustin was watering her neighbour's lawn last week when she started to feel unwell.

The Calgary woman, who regularly helps seniors in her neighbourhood with their gardening, said she went inside for a while, then decided to go for a walk.

She collapsed on the sidewalk near Richardson Way and Richardson Link S.W.

"I attempted to dial 911, which I must have done," she said. "And then cars were going up and down. Nobody was stopping. Nobody was paying attention. And so, honestly, I thought I was going to die out there. And I said, 'Dear God, don't let me die on the street.'"

Bus driver Jean Paul Pouliot was doing his route on June 29 for one of the last times, just days from retirement.

"I saw this lady laying on the sidewalk in quite an uncomfortable position, she had one knee tucked in and she was kind of sitting on it," he said. "So I just stepped off my bus and went to her, and she was in conversation with 911 and they were asking her questions as to where she was, and she seemed to be a little disoriented, so I offered to assist her in talking to 911."

Mike Symington/CBC
Mike Symington/CBC

Dustin had previously suffered a heart attack, and she knew something was terribly wrong. She said she was disoriented, couldn't see, couldn't hear and couldn't focus — and she was terrified.

"When he showed up, I just said, 'thank you, thank you for sending me somebody,' because I couldn't understand why people were just driving by," she said, her voice breaking.

"And I said, 'Dear God, please send me somebody, I don't want to die on the street.' And then all of a sudden this kind gentleman in the bus stopped, and he talked to 911 for me."

Paramedics arrived a short time later and were able to get Dustin safely to hospital. Meanwhile, Pouliot slipped away, assuming he'd remain anonymous.

"The ambulance arrived very quickly. It was, you know, less than five minutes that we had to wait," he said. "Of course, I felt a little concerned about her for the rest of the day, and the next couple of days. Actually, when the ambulance arrived, I left right away because my job was done, you know."

Mike Symington/CBC
Mike Symington/CBC

Dustin was treated for blood pressure issues and released after an adjustment to her medication.

She says she is still filled with a mix of gratitude for the stranger who stopped and anger at the drivers who clearly saw her in distress and kept going.

"Please, if somebody's laying on the sidewalk with their phone in their hand ... please stop, at least call 911," she said. "We're about helping people in this world right now. It isn't about watching somebody die as you're going to work."

On Wednesday, Dustin and Pouliot met for the second time, giving Dustin a chance to thank her angel in person, at the same place the incident took place.

"I'm glad to be standing here and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my, hopefully, healthy heart for you stopping that day, because you will be my hero and you will be my angel for the rest of my life," Dustin said.

Pouliot said he has helped a few people in medical distress over the years, and wouldn't hesitate to step up again.

"It's been my career to be in service to people, and I've always, when the opportunity comes around, I've always taken it," he said. "I mean, it's just a little kindness toward my fellow man … that's probably one of the reasons why I just really enjoyed my job."

Pouliot retired last Friday after 43 years with Calgary Transit.

He said he plans to spend more time gardening — as well as helping seniors in his neighbourhood with their gardens — and with his three grandchildren.

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