Why It’s Important to Involve First Responders in School Bus Training
School buses transport approximately 25 million students to and from school every day, and parents entrust the safety of their children to these buses and their drivers. This responsibility is taken very seriously by everyone involved, from parents and bus drivers to state administrators.
As a result, school buses have become one of the safest forms of transportation for millions of students in the U.S. and, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), travelers inside school buses are safer than those in other vehicles during a crash. School bus training plays a significant role in ensuring that safety is always at the forefront when transporting students to and from school.
While each state has its own requirements and training for becoming a school bus driver, school bus training takes place within the specific school district. This training focuses on emergencies and teaches drivers what to do when a crash or other disaster occurs.
Why School Bus Training Is Critical to Maintaining Safety for Drivers and Students
School bus training programs are most effective when all stakeholders are involved in the information-sharing process. This means involving both bus drivers and first responders when emergency response strategies are finalized and shared.
When preparing bus drivers for emergencies, most school districts focus heavily on the roles and responsibilities of the driver during a crash or other disaster. This can confuse bus drivers when first responders are introduced in an actual emergency. School bus training must go beyond simple processes and build relationships that can be leveraged when conducting disaster response.
First responders often have standardized strategies to deal with specific situations. Comprehensive training for school bus drivers goes a long way to formalize the roles and responsibilities of drivers and first responders before, during, and after an emergency. This reduces the need for extensive direction or explanation while an emergency response is being mounted. Here are three reasons why the participation of first responders in school bus training is vital to the safety of students and bus drivers.
Why Local First Responders Should Be Involved in School Bus Training
School Buses Have Unique Configurations That First Responders Must Be Made Aware Of
School bus designs are unique in each state due to specific requirements surrounding capacity, seat configuration, safety protocols, and more. With changes in the School Bus Safety Act introducing even more safety standards, first responders can sometimes be unaware of the specific features included in a school bus during an emergency. This can impede their ability to respond effectively and use all the tools available to them.
School districts that deploy fleet telematics are also able to coordinate with first responders in a way they could not before. The Edgewood Independent School District is a good example of how good communication between school bus drivers and first responders can improve emergency response times and effectiveness. First responders that are included in school bus training are more likely to be aware of the school buses’ configurations and respond with the necessary tools to combat the emergency effectively.
First Responders Can Train Bus Drivers to Respond Quickly in Emergencies While Waiting for Help to Arrive
Fleet telematics and modern communications solutions have made it possible for first responders to immediately respond to emergencies. Speed is always of the essence in emergencies, with every minute saved in response time increasing the survival rate. State contracts typically require first responders to reach the emergency site in a predetermined window of time. However, this is not always enough if a passenger in the vehicle requires immediate assistance.
School bus drivers are in the perfect position to provide this assistance when needed. Bus drivers are usually trained in basic first aid and CPR, and this training can go a lot further when first responders share their knowledge and expertise. Children, in particular, might need more attention during an emergency. This may include measures such as aggression management and behavior control techniques. Bus drivers, who already have a rapport with students, are in a good position to help them and keep them calm while waiting for first responders to arrive at the scene.
All-Hands-on-Deck Training Allows First Responders and Bus Drivers to Align Strategies and Tools to Use During an Emergency
Training and classroom sessions can help all participants close knowledge gaps and learn about emergency procedures. However, these trainings often fail to recognize that school bus drivers and first responders often react in very different ways. School bus drivers who might not have experienced such a situation before are more likely to freeze or panic in emergencies.
To prevent an emergency from overwhelming bus drivers, school bus training programs must include first responders who can share their experiences and tips. An example of an effective way to include first responders, drivers, and students in school bus training was displayed during a mock casualty training in Rayland, Ohio. Such exercises allow bus drivers to learn and make mistakes in a controlled environment before they face a real emergency, thereby reducing the uncertainty that comes with natural and man-made disasters.
School bus fleets are increasingly introducing technology to make their journeys safer and their disaster responses more effective. First responders and school bus drivers must come together to learn about how these tools make their job easier and how they can best use these technologies to increase passenger safety.
To learn more about how modern fleet telematics pairs with school bus training to provide students with the safest transportation, request a Fleet Complete demo today.
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