Levy County bus driver saves little boy’s life after he stops breathing

WCJB20 | by Claudia Bellofatto | November 2, 2020

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) – It started as a regular morning for bus driver Tanya Rivenburg. She was driving her usual route, picking up her students, when she heard a student yell “he’s choking.” It was a seven-year-old boy, choking on a piece of candy. Rivenburg immediately made her way to him.

“So I come out of my seat, and I went back there … and when I saw him, he was not breathing at all. He was blue,” said Rivenburg.

She said it was moments of panic after several failed attempts to get the boy breathing. Eventually, she was able to perform CPR and get the child breathing again before paramedics got there. Saving a child’s life was something Rivenburg never thought she would have to do in her four years of bus driving.

Rivenburg said she’s grateful for the CPR training she received with the school district. While the school board’s training had been recent, she said nothing could compare to the moment the emergency became a reality.

“You never know how you are going to react until you’re in that situation. We see it, we learn it, but until you’re there … it’s hard … it’s really hard. All I could say is ‘this is not happening … not here. This is not happening.’ I was going to get that child breathing again one way or another.”

It was an emotional day for Rivenburg who said the children on her bus are much more than just students.

“These are my babies. Each and every one of them,” she said after she pointed to the pictures and letters her students had given her.

Days later, Rivenburg was called to accept the Levy County School Board’s ‘Impact Award’ for her efforts.

“They presented me with that award and I was kind of shocked.”

The school board was the opposite of shocked when it came to seeing how Rivenburg reacted to the situation.

“I’m not surprised that Mrs.Rivenburg acted in that matter. She really cares about her students. She is involved in our training program and she does a really good job,” said Joseph Wain, Coordinator of Transportation for Levy County Schools.

As for the little boy, Rivenburg said he’s happy and healthy and back to riding the school bus again.

“He came over and gave me a hug … and I said ‘I’ll take care of you always’ … and he said ‘yes ma’am’,” she said with a laugh.

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