BERLIN, Mass. — A boy with autism is being hailed a hero for his quick thinking after his bus driver fell ill while on the job.
Berlin teen Michael Gomez was on his way to school when his bus driver began suffering a medical emergency. The 15-year-old jumped into action to get the driver the help he needed. He said he had no choice but to help, just like any first responder would.
"I’m happy about what I did and I felt like a real hero," he said.
It all started out like a regular Tuesday morning. Michael, who attends Summit Academy in Worcester, was riding the bus to school.
He was the only student on the bus that morning when his driver became ill.
"I noticed that he had to take a breath in order to speak," Michael said.
The driver told Michael he was having chest pains and that he was unable to make the call for help.
Without hesitation, Michael sprung into action.
"What I did was run inside the school and I said to the front desk, 'My driver is in need of assistance, he might be having a heart attack,'" Michael said.
School staff called 911 and the driver was sent by ambulance to a local hospital. He's expected to be OK.
Michael, who one day hopes to become a paramedic, is now being recognized for his courage by his school and first responders.
Michael says the Berlin Police Department Autism badge helped him be brave enough to run for help.
The teen says wearing his police badge gave him the added boost he needed.
"I knew I should have and I did, but with this badge it felt like it was transmitting courage to my body," Michael said.
Michael was wearing the patch on his chest for World Autism Awareness Day -- coincidentally, falling on the same day as this milestone in his young life.
"Ten years ago I was wondering what is he going to be like as a teenager and now I’m just floored, ya know," said Michael's mother, Milissa Macdonald.
She said a local ambulance company would like to recognize him for his courageous response.
He says he hopes one day to follow in their footsteps, and he feels he's one step closer to that dream.
"Funny, I actually felt like a first responder. Because I was! I was the first one to respond to his emergency," he said.
The bus company said the driver is still hospitalized and recovering but is expected to be OK.
Michael said he's looking forward to seeing him when he returns to the bus route.
Julie Leonardi shares his story on Boston 25 News at 6 p.m.
Cox Media Group