City school bus drivers undergo safety training

Published 9:17 am Monday, October 5, 2015

As part of School Bus Safety Week, which just ended Friday, Director of Federal Programs and Transportation for Elizabethton City Schools John Hutchins introduced an additional bus safety manual and corresponding procedure practice for bus drivers.
On Monday, drivers participated in semi-annual safety training including videos, testing and practicing evacuation procedures.
“I wanted to take extra time to ensure that everyone understands the procedures,” said Hutchins. “We can’t think in times of crisis; we have to react.”
Situations that might require bus evacuation are unlikely, and causes vary. Some examples of evacuation situations would be fire, a wreck or an obstruction in the bus aisle like a child with an injury. Students are only evacuated if that is the safest option, and bus drivers are well-trained in how to manage the situation.
Evacuation routes may be through the back of the bus, through the vent hatches on top, or out of windows. Students can only practice evacuating out the rear or front, and were scheduled to do so on Friday before school, but Hutchins and Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour decided that with the rain, they didn’t want students to have to be wet all day during classes, and the drill was postponed until after fall break.
The bus drivers explained to students the proper exits for a variety of evacuation scenarios, as well as how to use windows or overhead openings if necessary. Students are taught to listen actively so that a bus driver may assess the situation and tell students how to respond.
“It’s an awfully important responsibility, and we’re fortunate that the folks we have do such a good job,” said Hutchins.
Hutchins said gentleman from the state reviewed situations that drivers could encounter. They discussed these and focused on some that may be more likely in Elizabethton. Hutchins said that in his six years in this position, he cannot think of a time that a bus driver needed to evacuate a bus.
“I feel very confident that if we did have an emergency, the drivers would know what to do, and I fell certain that the students would cooperate,” said Transportation Supervisor, Drivers Education Teacher and Bus Driver Marty Street.
In an emergency situation it is the drivers that can make the difference, which is why the city school system feels it is so important to invest in their training.
“I feel lucky because we do have drivers with student safety in mind,” said Street.

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