A mock school-bus crash held this month is helping contractor Illinois Central School Bus respond to concerns arising from when drivers are unable to report the accident.
The Jan. 9 drill held in Batavia, Ill., simulated a collision between a school bus carrying students from Rotolo Middle School and another vehicle. Illinois Central collaborated with Batavia Public Schools and the Batavia fire and police departments. Four of the student victims were members of the middle school's eighth-grade first-aid class, and the school bus driver acted as an unconscious victim.
"(The) big lesson learned was what happens when the driver cannot report the accident. We have reinforced with our bus evacuation team that the older students need to instructed what to do if the driver is not responsive, such as utilizing the bus radio, their cell phones to call 911, etc.," said Dawn O'Connell, Illinois Central's contract manager for the area. "Also, we will utilize those drivers that do stage out during the day as response vehicles when routes are not running during (morning and afternoon routes).
She explained that if a crash occurs during midday, the buses closest to district schools respond versus waiting the 20 minutes for a bus to come from base.
Also participating were was the Tri-Com Central Dispatch and Southern Fox Valley and Central DuPage Emergency Medical Services System.
"We are proactively testing and evaluating emergency response systems to ensure that each agency is fully prepared to respond and execute systems in the event of a real crisis,: said Dr. Jack Barshinger, superintendent for Batavia Public Schools.
Batavia Fire Department's Ed Jancauskas added that all angencies used normal communications procedures, treating the drill as the "real deal."
Illinois Central operates 104 buses to transport nearly 4,000 students each day for Batavia and surrounding schools.