Creighton Elementary School District held a training exercise earlier this month that tested the ability of bus drivers to detect a hidden, fake explosive during simulated vehicle inspections before routes.
Cathy Erwin, the Phoenix school district's transportation diretor, told STN that she and two mechanics, Nabor Moreno and Javier Bernal, developed the in-service training "competition" on Aug. 2 to be proactive in demonstrating a real, potential scenario that local and federal Homeland Security officials have warned school districts about regarding terrorist attacks.
Along with 30 other planted defects in and around the bus, Erwin, Moreno and Bernal constructed a fake bomb resembling dynamite and made out of PVC pipe electrical tape, a clock, battery and flashing light. It was placed on top of the leaf springs behind the rear-dual, driver-side wheels.
Three teams of eight to nine drivers each had 10 minutes to perform the pre-trip inspection, minus the brake test. The inspection was broken up into three areas.
"The object of the competition was to find as many defaults as possible in the time allowed," Erwin said. "Each item found was worth three points ... and if they found everything, the team got a bus of 10 points for a total of 100."
The first lasted three minutes and included everything under the hool and in front of the service door, including the front tires, windshield but not operation of the front lights.
Another three-minute inspection included a walk around from the service door rearward along both sides of the bus to include the back of the bus and outside lights, again except for the front lights. The final inspection of four minutes included the interior of the bus, minus the brake check.
"Ten minutes doesn't sound like much time, but when you break it down into three areas and with two to three people looking for defects, it was plenty," said Erwin.
Still, she added, only one team found the fake bomb. She said she plans to plant the fake explosive on every bus at least once during the new school year.