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NFTA bus operator responds to passenger's medical emergency, uses skills he never knew he had

The bus operator performed chest compressions
Posted at 11:44 PM, May 11, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A normal day on the job turned into NFTA bus operator Robert Oehler using emergency medical skills he never knew he had.

“It’s point A to point B as safely as possible, and that day it was part of the safety,” Oehler said.

On April 27th, Oehler was doing one of his usual routes, when he said a passenger alerted him to a medical emergency on his bus. The bus was stopped at Delaware and Kenmore, Oehler said he and another passenger brought the man who needed help to the front of the bus where there was more space.

Oehler said he did chest compressions for about one-two minutes until EMS arrived.

“This passenger did stop breathing at least three more times, and I just did chest compressions," Oehler said.

He does not know what happened once EMS left.

“When it was over the adrenaline rush started to go away, that’s when I think I realized the gravity of the situation, when it was over," Oehler said.

Oehler said he never trained for a situation like this, and that he learned how to do chest compressions while watching TV.

"It's not about me or what I did it's about the fact that this gentlemen needed help, and I was there to help him," Oehler said.

In a statement, the NFTA said it couldn't be prouder of its employee.

We couldn’t be more proud of Robert Oehler, who went above and beyond his duties. We are grateful for his professionalism, heroism and willingness to serve others — even in challenging situations. This is another example of how our operators go the extra mile for riders across Western New York each and every day.
Helen Tederous NFTA Director of Public Affairs

While some people might call Oehler a hero, he said he doesn't see it that way.

"I think I just did what anyone else would do in that situation," Oehler said. "I just, to me a hero is a policeman, a fireman, and armed service member, those are heroes. I am just an NFTA bus driver doing my job day in and day out.”