OPTA Winter Workshop on Active Threat Training for School Bus Drivers

(Photos Courtesy of Chris Ellison.)

The Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) held its Winter Workshop on Feb. 23, 2019. The event drew 868 attendees from 54 school districts and locations throughout Oregon, which broke attendance records.

Post surveys of the event indicated this was one of, if not the best, Winter Workshops in recent memory, said Chris Ellison, transportation manager for Eugene School District 4j. The workshop this year was themed “How Will You Respond?—Threat Training for School Bus Drivers.”

OPTA produced various video vignettes showing “what-if” scenarios and resolutions of the following:

  • A kindergarten student finds his mother’s gun in her nightstand and brings it on the bus, showing other students.
  • An amped-up parent forces his way onto the bus to confront a student who has been bullying his son. He displays a weapon, threatening the student.
  • A student who is at the breaking point with life and school, boards the bus with guns stashed in his guitar case. The driver notices the guitar case and mentions he never knew he played the guitar (he doesn’t). The driver doesn’t say anything, and a school shooting occurs. A resolution to the video mentions, “see something, say something.”
  • A gunman cuts off the bus at a student stop and demands to be let on the bus, pointing the gun at the driver through the windshield.
  • A disgruntled man is casing out a school bus stop, and he ultimately boards the bus through the bus side emergency door. A gunman takes the bus hostage. Video shows two different resolutions: one in which help is not available and the driver takes matters into his own hands, and one in which help is available (with a SWAT response).

The Winter Workshop featured four different presentations (see below), and attendees earned seven hours of Oregon Department of Education classroom credit.

  • How Bus Drivers Get Into Trouble (presented by Dr. Nancy Blackwelder)
  • Active Threat Training for School Bus Drivers (presented by Sgt. Ryan Nelson, Officer Aaron Johns & Chris Ellison)
  • You Know You Work In Transportation If… (presented by Dr. Nancy Blackwelder)
  • Active Threat Response (presented by Eugene Police Department SWAT Team)

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