CSS basketball players save Barriere man from choking

Two Clearwater Secondary School Senior Boys basketball players and their coach probably saved the life of a Barriere school-bus driver

Clearwater Secondary basketball players Jairus Bromley (l) and Brock Vandamme helped save the life of Barriere school-bus driver Jack Kelly

Clearwater Secondary basketball players Jairus Bromley (l) and Brock Vandamme helped save the life of Barriere school-bus driver Jack Kelly

Two Clearwater Secondary School Senior Boys basketball players and their coach probably saved the life of a Barriere school-bus driver last Thursday evening.

“They’re heroes, as far as I’m concerned, said Jack Kelley. “They saved my life. I think they should get nominated for something.”

According to Kelley, the incident occurred at a Wendy’s in Kamloops after he had taken the Barriere Junior Girls basketball team to a game. He was just enjoying a bite to eat with the team when he started to choke.

“I tried to cough it back up but it wouldn’t come,” he said. “I was pretty scared. The Barriere coach tried to help me but wasn’t able to do much. I saw the Clearwater coach coming over. He asked, ‘Do you need help?’ I nodded yes. Then I blacked out. That was it.”

Kelley missed most of the excitement, according to Clearwater coach Geoff Giesbrecht.

He was trying to lift him up to perform a Heimlich maneuver on him from behind when he went unconscious.

Giesbrecht partially tore the muscles in one bicep when that happened and so was unable to do much more.

However, two of his players, Jairus Bromley and Brock Vandamme, came over and offered to help. Both had taken First Aid training the year before in Grade 10.

They lowered the unconscious man to the floor and began performing chest thrusts on him.

“For 16-year-olds to handle that and act so calmly, I was very impressed,” said the coach.

He contrasted this with some of the Barriere players, who were just screaming, and with one adult male bystander, who just stood there, doing nothing and then quietly walked away.

However, one adult female bystander did help, he said. Unfortunately, Giesbrecht did not get her name.

At this point, Kelley was not breathing and had no detectable pulse.

“I’ve never seen anyone that blue,” said Giesbrecht.

The boys kept giving him chest compressions for what seemed like several minutes.

Finally, the unconscious man started wheezing and he spat out the piece of food he had choked on.

The ambulance arrived about a minute after the bus driver started breathing.

The attendants checked him out and took him away to hospital.

“It was a scary moment,” said Jairus Bromley. “We’re very thankful that Mr. Giesbrecht was there. He guided us through it.”

Kelley said he recalls when the ambulance arrived. The driver of the Clearwater bus came over and assured him that he would drive the Barriere students home on his way to Clearwater.

The doctors at the hospital checked him out and found nothing wrong.

The following day he went back to driving school-bus with just a sore chest to remind him of his misadventure.


It was only during the day, when he spoke with people who had been there, that he realized how close had been his brush with death, said Kelley.



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