Fire departments throughout the county will be in Jackson tonight preparing for worst-case scenarios involving school buses.
Steve Baugh, public information officer for the Jackson Fire Department, said this is the second time the department has sponsored the training but the first time other departments will participate. He said representatives from nine Cape Girardeau County fire and rescue departments are scheduled to attend the event. He said other county agencies and departments from other counties may be there as well.
Baugh said part of the seminar will focus on firefighters learning more about different buses and the role of the bus driver during an emergency. Jackson school bus drivers will be there to walk firefighters through the buses, point out safety features and explain how the emergency exits work. Drivers will also talk about their safety plans and go through their emergency kits with firefighters.
"We want to make sure we are all on the same page in case the worst ever happens," Baugh said.
Part of the event will be spent responding to mock accidents. Baugh said student volunteers will play victims as firefighters practice removing them from the buses and placing them onto stretchers. That kind of training is important, he said, because extraction can be challenging given the high back of some bus seats and narrow walkways.
Baugh said the training is critical for all of the county's fire departments.
"Every fire district in the county has a school bus running through it," he said. "You need to be prepared. It can and does happen."
Carol Woods, transportation director for the Jackson School District, said 3,000 students ride school buses. She said firefighters at the last seminar were surprised by how many styles of buses were used in the district. She said her drivers will educate firefighters to the styles of service doors, hatches and emergency windows, as well as the lifts used on special-needs buses.
Baugh said knowing all the nuances of the buses allows firefighters to do their job more effectively and efficiently.
This year's training will take place at Orchard Elementary School next to the transportation garage, providing firefighters easy access to all the district's buses.
1402 Orchard Drive, Jackson, MO