A BUS driver was hailed as a hero for saving the life of a three year old girl who was choking on a jelly.
Paul Curtin, a bus driver with Enable Ireland, was driving through Cork city centre when he spotted a young mother frantically signalling for help as she stood beside her parked car.
"I was driving down (MacCurtain Street) and I saw this lady by the side of her car and I knew she was panicking. I could see two children in the car and I thought it was a bee or a wasp that had gone into their car," Paul told RedFM's Neil Prendeville Show.
"When I went over she was frantic and she said: 'The child is choking, the child is choking.' She was very upset and was in such a panic she couldn't even open the door."
"I took the child, put her over my knee and hit her a sharp slap between the shoulder blades and that dislodged what was stuck in her throat. I handed the child back to her the mother and said: 'I would take her to hospital now for a check up if I were you.' I said goodbye and then I drove off."
"I think it was a jelly sweet that she was choking on. I work with Enable Ireland and every three years you have to do a first aid course. You never think you are going to use it but it was critical that day."
"The poor child was turning blue. Afterwards, she too a big guzzle of air and turned to me and was crying and smiling."
Paul, who has been a bus driver with Enable Ireland for 22 years, said that, in a strange way, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown also played a part in saving the child's life.
"To tell the truth, and it is an awful thing to say, if it wasn't for the coronavirus I might have driven on because the traffic would normally be so heavy you'd likely drive on. On a normal day, I might have driven on and wouldn't even have noticed the woman."
"It makes me feel proud but very emotional over what happened. That was just 30 seconds of my life saying that child's life."
Paul laughed that the mother of two was taken aback when he first approached her to help.
"I know that mammy got a fright that day. I have tattoos on my arm and I think she got a bit of a fright when she saw me getting out of the vehicle to help. But I was just glad to be able to help them."
Later, the woman was so grateful she drove around Cork looking for Paul's bus so she could thank him. Her husband later contacted RedFM to offer a public 'thank you' to the driver for helping save his little girl's life.
Paul has since been flooded with tributes.
"The lady with the child in the car later waved me over out in Blackpool to thank me properly," Paul said. "I told her we live a very simple life - no mobile phones, no laptop computers or the like. I listen to the radio and that's it. I was just glad I could help them that day."
"It also shows the importance of doing first aid courses because someday you might be able to help someone in trouble."