A Maryland school district is using a video simulating the hijacking of a school bus as part of its preparedness, safety and awareness training for school bus drivers and attendants.
Victoria Williams, safety and training manager for the Transportation Division of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, says the division uses the 25-minute video to augment its training for bus drivers, bus attendants and cab drivers. Cab drivers sometimes transport students with special needs to schools inside and outside Anne Arundel County. Bus attendants ride on buses transporting special needs students.
To date, the division has trained approximately 1,059 drivers and attendants using the School Transportation Security Awareness DVD, produced several years ago through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration. The division holds refresher training sessions periodically.
The Anne Arundel training program incorporates discussion on safety and security awareness, including the purpose behind pre-trip bus inspections and the importance of driver awareness of any activity that may be suspicious.
The video depicts the hijacking of a school bus that ends with the safe release of the students. It emphasizes preparedness, teamwork, actions by the bus mechanic and the bus driver, and good communication throughout the event based on a security plan.
Williams says drivers appreciate the video as part of their training and she would recommend it to other school districts.
“Their eyes are really opened up by it, and there are always a lot of follow-up questions,” Williams says. “It’s a teamwork situation between the mechanics, the schools and the bus drivers. Communication is extremely important. When we showed it the very first time, the drivers were sitting on the edge of their seats. You could hear a pin drop. It totally had their attention 100 percent.”
“The drivers are our eyes and ears,” she adds. “When they see something of a suspicious nature, suspicious activity of any kind, they should call it in. We are out there every day and we know our neighborhoods, we know our roads. We even had a bus driver call in because a car was following the bus. It turned out to be one of our area specialists, but it was a good thing to do. Drivers need to use common sense and good judgment.”
For more information on the Anne Arundel County program, contact Victoria Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the TSA video, visit http://www.tsa.gov/stakeholders/school-transportation-security-awareness.