The Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas held their annual Safety Expo, a training program for more than 1,100 bus drivers and attendants, from Aug. 4-14. Participants learned about emergency evacuations, gang awareness, student management, first aid and green driving.
The district partnered with the American Red Cross, HISD Police Department Gang Task Force, the Houston Fire Department, among others, to develop interactive drills involving scenarios that pose a threat to school bus safety.
“This year’s training was really exciting in that it puts folks in realistic situations and challenges them,” saidNathan Graf, HISD transportation general manager. “It was not your typical training.”
One of the scenarios trained attendees on safely evacuating a school bus that is on fire. The Houston Fire Department helped facilitate the event, which included the use of smoke machines to give the effect of a real-world situation. Participants then had to find simulated children inside of the bus and help them to exit safely.
The Houston ISD transportation department has won various awards in recent months for its emphasis on safety and training. It was the bronze winner of the 24th annual Telly Awards for the school bus safety music video they created for School Bus Safety Week last year. Safety trainer Tomeka Criswell-Brooks received the "Best Performance Award" at the Region 4 ESC Driver Trainer Academy held in March. In recent years, the district has also added counter-terrorism drills to their emergency preparedness training program.
Located northwest of Houston, Comanche Independent School District has a bus evacuation training in the works for School Bus Safety Week next month, and Transportation Director Richard Mussey told STN he also plans to use theatrical smoke to add a new layer of realism to the drill — literally. Mussey oversees 17 bus drivers and has 28 buses in his fleet.
Another notable training program honed in on the potential dangers of heat inside the school bus, which was the subject of an August STN Magazine article.
Read more about how to execute a successful bus evacuation plan in our October issue.