Local school bus driver recognized for potentially saving child's life

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A local school bus driver is being celebrated for potentially saving a child's life several weeks ago. While the driver said the incident is not the craziest thing that's ever happened on his bus, he credits his training for the positive outcome.

School bus driver David Doss has seen a lot of things on his bus. He's been on the job now for six years.

It's not what he saw, but what he did one day that's getting a lot of attention.

"Just another day," Doss said, chuckling.

Just another day for him was a day that could have changed the life of fifth grade Breakfast Point Academy Student, Zach Culbertson.

"I ride home and then my brother is like, 'he choked today!' And my mom was like, 'what?'" he said.

"Yeah," said mom, Anna Walsh. "I don't think he was gonna tell me."

Zach wasn't going to tell his mom that on the bus ride home, a piece of candy lodged in his throat.

"And I ran to him and I didn't know what to do," Zach said.

Doss said he knew what was happening right away.

"He was gasping for air and holding his throat," Doss said.

What happened next, they say, happened so fast.

"He did the Hiemlich remover," said Zach.

Doss said he threw on the emergency break and got to work.

"Just one time. I just pumped his belly one time and it come flying out," Doss explained. "He took a deep breath and went back to his seat like nothing happened!"

Doss said he's not a hero, just a guy doing his job. But the Bay District School board thought his quick thinking was a job worth rewarding.

The incident happened in January, but on March 14 the board presented him with a certificate and he was met with applause from the audience.

He told those in attendance, "I just use my training. Do my job."

"And that's something, to be said in no questions asked, he did what he needed to to keep my child alive," said Walsh. "And that's a lot."

Doss said he likes talking to the kids on his bus - finding out how their day went and asking what they learned in school.

Walsh and her son say, the students respect him.

"Maybe because they all listen to him and if they didn't," Zach explained, "he would have respect for them but just not as much."

While Doss will admit he's not the perfect bus driver -

"You try not to yell but sometimes you can't help it you know!"

This time, at least, things went perfectly right.

"I would say that he's a lifesaver and I would thank him very much," Zach said.

While this was the first time Doss ever performed the Heimlich Maneuver on anyone, it isn't the first time Zach has choked. His mom said he'll now only be able to enjoy hard candies under strict supervision.