DALLAS - School bus drivers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of children during their daily commute. One bus driver from the Dallas Independent School District, Raquel Radford-Baker, recently demonstrated exceptional heroism when she saved the life of a student choking on her bus last month. The dramatic rescue was captured on video, showcasing Radford-Baker's quick thinking and courage.
On September 29, Raquel Radford-Baker, known affectionately as "Miss Rocky" by the students, began her shift just like any other day, emphasizing the importance of safety as she considers the children under her care her own.
That day, she was filling in for another bus driver, a twist of fate that placed her in the right place at the right time. When a critical situation unfolded, Radford-Baker was en route to drop off students at Seagoville North Elementary School.
Video footage from the school bus reveals 7-year-old Preston Bell putting something into his mouth and collapsing between the seats, clearly in distress. Radford-Baker sprang into action when she heard Preston mention a penny and immediately recognized the gravity of the situation. Without hesitation, she grabbed him and rushed downstairs, performing the Heimlich maneuver to the sidewalk.
Radford-Baker recalls the tense moments, saying, "The whole time I’m saying, 'Baby, breathe, baby, breathe. I got you, breathe.'" Preston appeared limp and had turned blue. In her determination to save the young boy, Radford-Baker spotted a parent and asked her to call 911. Her veteran training kicked in despite never having performed the Heimlich maneuver before. She remained calm under pressure, invoking a prayer for assistance, stating, "All I said to myself was, 'God help me. Help me save this baby.'"
In a surprising turn of events, Radford-Baker didn't even realize when the quarter that had caused Preston's distress flew out of his mouth. "Moments later, the lady said, 'Ma’am, there’s a quarter there.' And I’m still in shock because I’m still trying to work with him, and he stepped to the side and said, 'Miss Rocky, I’m OK, I can breathe,'" she recalled.
Radford-Baker had the opportunity to meet Preston's grateful mother earlier this month. As a mother of three, she could empathize with the emotional turmoil Preston's mom had experienced. "She was just so thankful. It was just a relief. I put myself in her shoes and told her I could only imagine how she felt," Radford-Baker shared.
Her Dallas Independent School District supervisors have recognized Radford-Baker's exceptional heroism and life-saving efforts, honoring her with well-deserved awards. Still in awe of the magnitude of the impact of her actions, she remarked, "As of today, I’m still in shock. I really can’t believe that this happened. I didn’t realize what a big impact I had."
While she may not fully understand the wellspring of courage that allowed her to save Preston's life that day, Radford-Baker firmly believes that a higher purpose guided her actions. "I feel like God placed me there for a reason. If I wasn’t there, I don’t know what the other driver may have done," she said.