Transit trio apply critical first aid skills to save a life

By Kirsten Long, communications coordinator

Everyday transit enforcement officers patrol bus hubs in the City of Mississauga with the goal to keep everyone safe. On one particular day, they saved a life. 

Michal Dabrowski is a Transit Enforcement Officer for the City of Mississauga and has been certified in first aid and CPR for nearly 10 years. He used his training in the past to administer CPR, but never expected to put it to the test a second time. However, in early January, Michal and two of his colleagues relied their first aid training to save a man’s life.

“It’s when you least expect it. We didn’t go into work that day expecting something like that to happen.” Michal explains.

Michal and his platoon partner Robin Taradan, who has been certified in first aid for the past 17 years, were conducting their routine patrol at the Rathburn transit terminal, one of the busiest terminals in the city. Suddenly, a passerby alerted Robin and Michal that someone outside the terminal had collapsed and was not breathing.

A mannequin lying on the ground with AED hooked up and a pair of arms performing chest compressionsMichal and Robin put their critical first aid training into immediate action.

The two transit workers ran outside and began their assessment of a man, who was slouched against a wall. They realized that the person was unresponsive and not breathing normally.

“Robin and I knew this person was in need of help. I quickly ran inside to grab our Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Robin immediately began chest compressions,” Michal recalls.

“It was instinct. I was in a position to do it [CPR] and I was ready to take on compressions. There was no hesitation at all,” recounts Robin.

With the AED, Michal removed the man’s jacket and shirt, applied the pads, and then waited for the AED to conduct its analysis. “It advised a shock almost right away” explains Michal. “Robin continued CPR as I monitored the AED.”

Brad LeCouter, who has worked as a Transit Operator for the past eight years, was in service with his bus at the terminal when the incident occurred. As someone who is also trained in first aid, Brad didn’t hesitate to lend his colleagues hand. “As I opened my passenger door, they were just cutting off his shirt. It was right there, that’s why I intervened and said, ‘Hey guys, I have my first aid and CPR if you need me,’” he shares.

Michal and Robin were glad to have another trained first aider there to assist. “It felt nice having an additional body, knowing that if Robin became tired, we could sub [substitute] her out. That was huge,” Michal explained.

At this time, the AED was cycling through its second assessment and suggested a second shock. Following the second shock, Brad took over for Robin, continuing compressions while Robin searched the individual for identification and Michal provided information by telephone to emergency services personnel.

Shortly after, emergency personnel arrived and took over before transporting the man to the hospital. “From our understanding of what they [emergency personnel] told us, the second shock actually got his heart back into rhythm,” Michal explains.
Three people in uniforms and masks

    Left to right: Michal Dabrowski, Brad LeCouter, Robin Taradan

When reflecting on that eventful day, Michal, Robin and Brad agreed that having first aid training, as well as being able to work together as a team, was crucial.

“Even though it is a job requirement for me to maintain first aid, I feel like it’s something they should be teaching in high schools and beyond,” Michal adds. “I am a strong advocate for having first aid. I feel that everyone should carry their first aid certifications and refresh on it.”

For their life-saving efforts, Michal, Robin and Brad received a Red Cross Rescuer award. 

The Canadian Red Cross is a leading provider of first aid and CPR programs and has been offering training to Canadians for over 60 years. Find more information on the training programs and registration

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