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Bright blue and green Intercity Transit buses and Dial-a-Lift vehicles cover approximately 101 square miles within Thurston County. Drivers see a lot of territory. With 21 bus routes running from predawn to late evening, as well as providing door to door services, they frequently encounter emergencies and moments of distress in their paths. Incidents happen on a regular basis, and drivers often go above and beyond their roles as coach operators to save lives.

Intercity Transit Bus Driver Leata Roberts headshot
Leata Roberts is an Intercity Transit driver recognized by the Olympia Police Department for her life saving actions. Photo courtesy: Intercity Transit

Being in the right place at the right time may be kismet. However, being present is only part of the formula for a successful intervention during an emergency. Quick wit, action, calm application of procedure and readily available support complete the equation.

Driver Leata Roberts intervened when she saw a distraught woman climbing over a freeway overpass guardrail. Roberts stopped her bus in the middle of the road and proceeded to de-escalate the situation by calling to the woman and getting her to move away from the guardrail. When the woman moved back toward danger, Roberts grabbed her in a bear hug and called out for another driver to contact 911. Roberts received recognition from the Olympia Police Department for her life saving actions.

Dial-A-Lift driver Dave Cabe was picking up a client on a cold February morning when the caretaker of an elderly woman approached him for help. The elderly woman had wondered away from her home and the caretaker and her husband had doubts she could return on her own. The caretaker gave a description and let Cabe know the woman was wearing an identification bracelet. Cabe called dispatch so all Intercity Transit staff would be on the look-out.

Intercity Transit Bus Driver Dave Cabe headshot
Dave Cabe, an Intercity Transit Dial-A-Lift driver, assisted a disoriented elderly woman back to her home, husband and caretaker. Photo courtesy: Intercity Transit

During the course of his day, he saw an elderly woman standing on the corner of a busy intersection matching her description. He stopped, asked to see her bracelet and when he found that they matched he guided her to his van. Together, Cabe and dispatch were able to find her residence and return the woman to her husband and caretaker. “That’s why I took this job,” Cabe says. “There is a big need in the community to help people. There are a lot of us out there that see a lot of different areas and the police can’t be everywhere. It is a good service, and I feel good about helping the community.” Cabe says occasionally dispatch and police will keep drivers alert about a person who has wandered off, and support from supervisors is just a radio call away.

Riders and family members are grateful for the caring actions of drivers. Moved by the behavior of driver Terry Glave, a passenger gave accolades for Glave’s kind interactions while working with a disabled passenger. A mother of a passenger who had a severe asthma attack reached out and expressed her thanks in writing for driver Mark Masson’s decision to call medics to the scene.

Intercity Transit equips drivers with the tools they need to safely provide millions of rides each year. Drivers are trained to call in for support and maintain the care of their passengers. “Intercity Transit’s culture is like a family taking care of each other,” Intercity Transit Director of Operations Emily Bergkamp shares. “Operators mentor each other, and our supervisors respond to driver needs and situations out on the road.

Intercity Transit Bus Driver Paul Tischer headshot
Paul Tischer, while on the job as an Intercity Transit coach operator, performed chest compressions to assist a man who was having medical issues. Photo courtesy: Intercity Transit

“Intercity Transit provides great training and support to our operators to serve the community with safety and customer service as a priority,” says Paul Tischer, “Intercity Transit is a great place to work. I work with a great group of operators who are like family and have a heart to serve the community through driving and beyond.”

Tischer and driver Ted Depoe acted quickly to save a man’s life at Capital Mall. Depoe, as he arrived at the mall, observed a man in the bus area having medical issues. Tischer, also on scene and familiar with his past training as a first responder, performed chest compressions while Depoe called 911. “As operators with Intercity Transit,” says Tischer, “we are out there on the front lines in the community, and I take it as a personal commitment to serve the community in providing rides for those who need to get to work, school, medical appointments and to assist in any way possible for those in need.”

The job of a coach driver commands all attention to road and passenger safety. “We hire individuals who have experience in customer service, enjoy helping people, serving the public and can think on their feet,” Bergkamp says. “You can teach someone to drive a bus, but you can’t really teach this level of customer service. It really speaks to their quick decision-making skills and level of human kindness.” All of us in the community benefit from their great training and sense of duty. And it proves that not all heroes wear capes. Many of them work for Intercity Transit.

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