Teen with autism uses Boy Scout CPR training on bus driver suffering heart attack

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A 10th grade Boy Scout is being hailed as a hero for his efforts in saving the life of his school bus driver.

The West Central Tribune in Willmar reported that Jeron Baalson, who has autism, was the only student left on the special needs bus driven by 64-year-old Greg Engelke on March 9.

Baalson, who attends school in the New London-Spicer district, had been chatting with Engelke when the driver went silent. WCCO reports the van crashed into a ditch as Engelke suffered a heart attack.

“He kind of gripped the wheel and suddenly started recessive convulsions,” Baalson told the station. “He was stiff.”

The teen put what he had learned in Boy Scouts to work. He started pumping on Engelke’s chest. Baalson grabbed the van’s radio to call for help.

“The first thing I said was, ‘May Day, May Day, May Day!'” he said. “It’s the first thing that came to mind because I was doing the emergency preparedness merit badge and learning the emergency distress call.”

He began communicating with the bus garage in New London. A rescue squad was dispatched, and the first responders arrived to take over Baalson's lifesaving efforts.

Despite the quick response, Engelke died an hour after the ambulance took him to a Willmar hospital.

On Monday, Baalson received a certificate of bravery from the New London-Spicer school board. He's also received a plaque from the American Heart Association and his Boy Scout Troop nominated him for a national Meritorious Action Award.

“I’m pretty dang proud of him,” said scoutmaster Randy Benson. “He did everything he was supposed to do. I think it’s just amazing. I get pretty choked up about it.”

“He tried his hardest,” said Engelke’s widow, Gloria. "I’m thankful he was still on board to help Greg."

I hope he is in God’s hands,” Baalson said.

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