County school bus drivers attend crisis response training

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Whatever it takes.

That is the mindset of the Carter County School System’s Transportation Department when it comes to ensuring the safety of the students riding school buses.

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On Wednesday morning, bus drivers with the school system attended a training session designed to help them be better prepared should a critical incident happen on their bus. Carter County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Carlock led the meeting and spoke to drivers about the different types of active crisis situations they could encounter on their bus, including incidents such as students fighting, an adult trying to force their way onto the bus, and someone using a weapon to threaten or harm students.

“You guys are a very crucial part of school safety for our children,” Carlock said. “The burden, the weight, you all have on your shoulders is unfathomable, and we understand that.”

“We want you to get into the mindset of it may just happen,” he continued. “We hope and pray to God that it does not happen, but we need to be prepared.”

During the training session Carlock, along with CCSO Sgt. Tracie Pierson and Sgt. David Munsey, spoke to the group about the types of situations they could encounter, steps they can take to respond to those incidents, and the information they need to relate to dispatch so law enforcement and other emergency services can begin responding to the situation.

“Deep down in your gut, you are going to have to understand that if something happens, you are going to have to do something,” Carlock said.

Some of the driver’s questioned what they could do to restrain or stop a juvenile since they primarily deal with children.

“If you are actively engaged with an individual who is committing aggravated assault, serious injury, or possibly death, you have a duty to act. You can defend yourself and others,” Carlock said.

Carter County Schools Transportation Director Wayne Sams echoed that message to his drivers.

“You have to do whatever it takes to protect the children on your bus and to protect yourself,” Sams said. “If there is a situation where somebody is threatening your life or the lives of these children, we need to do whatever it takes. At the end of the day, we have to protect every one of those children.”

One of the areas the officers focused on is an adult trying to force their way onto the bus. Carlock said the county has experienced situations like that before and drivers need to know how to handle the situation. Under state law, it is a criminal offense for an unauthorized person to get on a school bus.

“If you have one that is raising holy immortal Cain, get on that radio and get us on our way,” Carlock said. “Get up out of that seat, march down those stairs and tell them to get off your bus. You have that power, utilize it.”

“They should not be getting on that bus, ever,” he continued. “When they hit that first step, you should be going down the steps to get them off your bus.”