LESSON PLAN OUTLINE: School Bus Safety and Emergency Procedures
THE PURPOSE OF THE LESSON
Hello and welcome, future public and private school bus drivers in the state of California! Driving a bus full of noisy and energetic children is certainly a challenging but rewarding task. The purpose of today's lesson is to inform all of you potential drivers about the different regulatory issues pertaining to driving a school bus in the state of California. We will pay particular attention to the issues that have arisen from the 1999 amendments to the California Education Code pertaining to issues of safety on the school bus and proper education of students in emergency procedures. This is of great concern today because of the higher level of nervousness and vigilance that has swept America in the wake of the attacks from September 11th. Every student knows to stop, drop, and roll, in case of a fire, but students should also be equally aware of the correct procedures to follow on their buses in case of an emergency. This is not just common sense -- it is also the law.
2) THE OBJECTIVE OF THE LESSON
This lecture will began with brief overview of the legal issues pertaining school bus safety in general, with a specific focus on how they are germane your needs as school bus drivers about to obtain your school pupil activity bus licenses in California. The rest of the lecture will focus on letter D, part 4, of section 39831.5 of the Californian Education Code. This section pertains to bus safety, specifically emergency evacuation strategies. It is thus the section that is the most complex in its implementation as well as the most pertinent to your duties as bus drivers. By the end of this lecture, I hope that all of you will have a basic familiarity with the legal issues pertaining to school bus safety. I also hope on a very practical level you will all be able to inform your students of the proper way to evacuate a school bus in case of an emergency situation.
By way of introduction, for all of your information California Education Code Section 39831.5 SEC. 2. Section 38048 of the Education Code was amended and renumbered in 1999 by the California legislature to affirm that "all pupils in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, in public or private school" who are transported in a school bus or school pupil activity bus "must receive instruction in school bus emergency procedures and passenger safety." It first outlines the duties of the county superintendent of schools, superintendent of the school district and owner / operators of private schools. It states that these individuals must inform parents in writing of information pertaining school bus safety, such as a general list of school bus stops near each pupil's home, rules of conduct at school bus loading zones, red light crossing instructions, school bus danger zones, and walking to and from school bus stops.
This is of interest to you because it means that it is the school's responsibility that students and parents are already informed in writing of the appropriate methods of conduct on the buses you drive. However, at least once a year, bus drivers must provide school bus passengers with safety instruction. These may include, but are not limited to, proper loading and unloading procedures, how to be escorted safely by the bus driver, proper passenger conduct, bus evacuation, and location of emergency equipment as well as instruction on the use of "passenger restraint systems" -- better known as seatbelts.
This is most critical part of the law is letter D, section 4. It states: "Prior to departure on a school activity trip, all pupils riding on a school bus or school pupil activity bus shall receive safety instruction that includes, but is not limited to, location of emergency exits, and location and use of emergency equipment. Instruction also may include responsibilities of passengers seated next to an emergency exit."
In terms of practical application of the law, this means that all of you, as school bus drivers in the state of California must take time out of your busy schedule to give your student charges instruction in how to behave during an emergency situation. This is true no matter how much the kids complain that they're late for practice, no matter silly you or they feel doing it -- it must be done. Note that this must be done "prior to departure." The ideal time to do this is at the beginning of the school year, or the beginning of the season of the particular activity or sport you are providing transportation for. This establishes you as a figure of authority and respect for the students on a daily basis as well as someone to look to for leadership during an emergency. Should the students prove resistant, remind them of the real possibilities of emergencies, especially in today's world.
The best way to provide safety instruction that the students will remember is to simulate what might happen in the case of an actual emergency. Instead of merely lecturing them, have several of the students sitting next to the emergency exits open the doors, with your supervision. It might be a good idea to do this twice, as student seating may change from day-to-day. Ideally, it would be nice to have assigned seats or assigned students to operate the emergency exits on every busload of students. However, all students, in case of these designated students' absences, should have a basic idea of how to open the emergency doors and where these doors are located. This is also true for emergency equipment, such as the fire extinguishers and the opening of emergency windows, which may also be necessary to use in case of an emergency.
Of course, bus drivers during a review of emergency operating procedures cannot simulate all potentially dangerous evacuation strategies through the windows or using bus fire extinguishers. On a very basic level, however, what can be done is this. The designated students, under supervision of the driver, can open up the emergency exit doors. These students may quickly leave the bus, and, while standing outside the bus, may help other students jump from the relatively high level of the bus onto safe ground. Again, this operation may need to be performed twice to enable the students to move speedily. The driver can make this into a 'game' -- have the students try to beat their first time, for instance. For the maximum possible efficacy in evacuation the students will need to use all emergency exits simultaneously. The driver may wish to situate him or herself at different doors during the different simulations of emergency situations, making sure that all passengers know to head for the nearest exit doors in an emergency situation, and making sure that all students feel safe and comfortable exiting the bus in an expedient fashion.
6) A TEST
Lastly, as not all emergency equipment can be demonstrated, the bus drivers should run through sample emergency situations and randomly ask students what they would do. For instance, there is a fire on the bus -- what should you do? An appropriate student response would be to say, 'reach for the fire extinguisher.' The bus driver must then prompt, what would you do? The student or another student should be able to explain not only where the fire extinguisher is on the bus, but also how to activate it school bus driver must also be mindful of the special needs of some special students. For instance, a bus with very young children or students with special needs may need extra help in evacuating the bus during emergency situations. When these students are regular…