Friday, March 1, 2013
The word strikes fear into everyone who hears it. Who is it? What happened? Is everyone okay? The fear seems to double when there is a school bus involved. Bus accidents are scary things, though sometimes the accident can be something as simple as the bus driver hitting a stop sign, getting stuck in the mud, or getting the bus hung up on a fire hydrant (true story!). The accident could be as severe as a roll over or head on collision. These accidents can be caused by the bus drivers, other motorists, and that random garbage can that attacks the bus (they're vicious!!).
The question then becomes, "What to do in the case of an emergency involving a school bus?"
1. Don't panic. - This applies to school bus drivers as well as parents. Assess the situation. Find out what happened and then formulate a plan. If the bus is simply stuck in the mud, and there are no injuries, simply come and pick up your child from the bus or wait for the bus to get pulled out of the mud and resume regular route. The bus driver is trained to do everything in his/her power to ensure the safety of your child, even in the most extreme circumstances.
2. Injuries? If there are injuries, we call the appropriate medical personnel to come and assess your child and let them take the appropriate action necessary to ensure the safety of your child. We already do this for children that have asthma attacks, seizures, and other medical conditions on the bus that may require attention, though those are categorized as medical emergencies.
3. Supply information. Before your child starts riding the bus, we ask that you fill out an information form. This includes your child's name, address, parent's names, phone number, grade level, school, medical conditions, and who to contact in the case of an emergency. Please ensure that all bus drivers that transport your child have this information and that you keep it updated. There is nothing worse than trying to call you to notify you about a problem your child is having and finding out the phone number has been disconnected, or worse, that the school does not have updated information for your child. *** For younger children, writing in a sharpie permanent marker on the inside of their school bag with their name, and phone number, is helpful in helping me identify your child.***
4. Teach your child the basics. One of the best things for a child to know is the basics of name, phone number, parent name, and address. I once had a child who accidentally got on my bus and then realized that she should have boarded a completely different bus. She was in kindergarten and she came up to me and said, "My name is X, My moms name is X, I live at XXXXXXX, my phone number is 555-1234, can you call my mom and tell her where I am?" I contacted the bus shop, they contacted the mother (who as it turned out is also a bus driver) and the situation was resolved.
5. Severity - If the accident is more severe, such as a head on collision or the bus got rear-ended, find out if your child is going to the hospital, and then meet your child at the hospital or come pick your child up at either the accident site or a central location such as a school. Be aware that emotions will be running high as your child is understandably scared. In most cases where the accident was not severe enough to warrant all children going to the hospital, the bus shop will send a spare bus to pick up the children who are fine and just shaken up to either bring back home, or on to school, depending on the time of day. You, as a parent, do have the right to decide whether your child will just get on the other bus, or if you will come pick him/her up at the scene. Often times, we try to remove the children from the scene as fast as possible (once released by medical personnel) as we do not want to frighten them any more than they already are. Additionally for something such as the bus getting stuck in the mud, or a minor fender bender where there were no injuries at all, we will notify you as soon as possible, but rest assured your child will be taken care of and transported to the appropriate place.
The Bus Driver