Arlington bus driver Milkesha Howard will be just fine if the rest of the school year passes without anything exciting happening on her shift. The drama of a recent November afternoon was enough, she said.
Howard, who has been driving for the district about two years, had just picked up children from Workman Junior High in south Arlington when the riders started yelling that someone was choking. She looked into her review mirror and saw a boy with his hands to his throat, struggling to breath, she said.
She stopped the bus on the street, called for security over the radio and headed down the aisle. Howard, a mother of two, has never had any training in doing the Heimlich maneuver, but she’s seen it on television plenty of times. So, she put her hands under his diaphragm and tried to clear his throat – which apparently had a piece of candy lodged in it.
“I did a couple of squeezes and I said, ‘Can you breathe?” she said. “He said, ‘no.’ So, I just kept doing it until he could.”
Then, she finished her route.
The boy was scared, but okay, she said. She wrote an incident report later and it caught the attention of her supervisor. School administrators planned to honor her at Thursday’s school board meeting.
Howard said she was just doing what had to be done. “That’s just part of my job,” Howard said. “I was like, ‘Oh no, not on my watch. You’re not going to pass out or anything on my bus.”