There is a lot that goes into keeping school buses and their passengers safe and secure. It’s a team effort of drivers, mechanics, managers, instructors – everyone in the school transportation operation.
Being proactive in daily practices, knowing how to respond to threats, and watching for anything that could be considered dangerous or suspicious can keep daily trips safe and secure. Below are some things that operations should put into practice on a daily basis:
1. Inspect the bus thoroughly – pre-trip and post-trip inspections serve multiple purposes, including looking for mechanical issues and looking for sleeping children. Emergency doors should be tested to make sure they are working properly – disabling them could be a part of a planned attack.
2. Be observant – be aware of your surroundings, look for anything outside of normal. Suspicious bags left on bus, items brought on by students that they have never carried before are things that should be checked. Cases of students bringing guns and ammunition in guitar cases have been recorded.
3. Build rapport and respect with children – when a driver has an established relationship of respect with the passengers, those passengers will be more likely to tell the driver of any concerns they have. The Department of Homeland Security has a campaign called “If You See Something, Say Something” which advises that everyone has a responsibility to report suspicious activity. In most school shootings, the shooters had told other students what they were planning to do, but the students did not tell an adult.
4. Use the driver’s side window – make unauthorized people come around to the driver’s window and not board the bus to talk to the driver. If this puts them in the street, have them go to the transportation office to ask questions or voice concerns. The purpose is to keep them from boarding the bus in the first place and having the problem of getting them off.
5. Develop radio code words – If a driver becomes aware that danger is imminent (student brings a weapon on board, mechanical issues, unauthorized person on the bus), the driver can radio in with code words that the passengers will not understand. This keeps the passengers calm, not knowing the imminent danger.
Next week we will continue with security steps to keep school bus passengers and drivers safe.