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NAPT, TSA School Bus Security Event Plans for Unthinkable

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No longer can student transporters say, “That would or could never happen to me.” This is undoubtedly what is on the minds of some NAPT members as they head out Saturday morning to attend a special security exercise with the Transportation Safety Administration.

The colossal, full-day event promises mock casualty drills, hands-on exercises and table-top discussions to address the “what if” when it comes to school buses, whether that be a crash or something much more nefarious.

We’ve seen multiple school bus drivers shot to death in the line of duty. We’ve seen deranged people board the bus and hijack it. Communication and planning by student transporters is key, as is preparing to adapt and respond at a moment’s notice.

In today’s society, literally anything can happen, and student transporters must be ready.

Many school districts nationwide are and have been preparing for the unspeakable, whatever that is, with local emergency exercises. Quite a few years ago in Cincinnati, NAPT used its annual conference as a platform to work with local law enforcement to detonate C4 explosives on a bus to show attendees the horrific damage. The association has followed up with other exercises as well.

Three years ago at the STN EXPO in Reno, Nevada, we worked with the local Washoe County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team to provide several commonplace—and not so common—scenarios that could occur on the school bus. Everyone in attendance was abuzz. We followed that experience up the following year with a half-day, table-top exercise in partnership with TSA that included local school district representatives from transportation as well as administration plus first responders and medical professionals.

It will be intriguing to hear the conversation’s among attendees during and following today’s NAPT exercise as the industry continues to react to the new normal: Unheard of violence occurring on the bus and at bus stops nationwide.

Meanwhile, the America’s Best School Bus Inspector & Technician Skills & Training Competition is being held at the Kansas City Convention Center. I, for one, would like to see these school bus professionals included in a security exercise to the proportions of the TSA event because technicians are every bit as vital if not more so to school bus security than drivers and other staff.

Who else is best equipped to notice if even the slightest thing seems out of place on or in our nation’s school buses?

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