I have several students in my class who ride the bus to school, but the majority of them are either car riders or they simply walk home, due to the close proximity of the school to their homes. As a result, I have many students who don’t ride school buses all that much. We are only able to go on one or two field trips a year, depending on the distance and time, so some of my students are only on a school bus once every few months.
However, we want all of the students in our school to be trained in how to safely evacuate a bus in case of an emergency. Today was our bus evacuation training day. My students boarded a bus and first learned about the safety features, such as the high foam seat backs that are designed to absorb massive shock and prevent injury to students in case the bust has to stop quickly, or the plexiglass windows that are designed to be kicked out to create an exit in the event that the regular exits and emergency exits are inaccessible. They also learned that the bus is equipped with a GPS device that lets the district’s transportation supervisor monitor where all of the buses are at all times. There is a special sensor on the bus that is activated whenever the bus is turned off that detects motion in the case of a student accidentally being left on a bus. (Our driver told us that this has happened 14 times in the past year, but not in Urbana!)
The class also learned how to safely exit a bus through the rear door, by sitting down on the edge and hopping down, then having the taller, older students help smaller, younger students get down. We were told that it only takes 2 minutes for a bus to fill with smoke and just 4 minutes before it could be engulfed in flames, so it is urgent that, in the case of an emergency, they exit the bus as quickly as possible! They also learned how to exit a bus if it stalls on railroad tracks and a train is coming. They leave from either the front or the back and run 100 yards toward the train (staying off the tracks, of course) in order to be shielded from any potential debris.
After reviewing all of the safety precautions and the procedures for exiting a bus, we practiced a front-door exit. (There were three buses providing training this morning and there wasn’t enough space to practice a rear-door exit.) I was the first off the bus and timed my class. We were able to safely evacuate and get away in just 36.7 seconds! Not bad! I feel much more comfortable about the prospect of taking the class to Springfield this spring, knowing that if there is an emergency, my students will know what to do. And a huge shout-out to Dawn, our driver, who answered every student’s question and helped them feel more comfortable about being on a bus!