As I write this article, we are getting ready for spring to move in and the weather to get warmer. I must say though, we have had some pretty nice weather already.
This time of year is great for training before the heat of the summer rolls in. It is also a time when folks start traveling more and that puts us out there on more vehicle crashes. School is at its peak and the students are feeling better because they know warmer weather and summer will soon be here. The increase in activity means a possible increase in accidents.
We have looked at the types of buses and their construction. Next step is scene approach, some pre-planning and lastly size up. How we approach things is very important, but just as important is how we have planned for things. We need to pre-plan our response area and look at the needs and resources we may require. We are good at pre-planning structures, but sometimes fall short of planning for vehicle crashes. We just take things for granted sometimes. When we start to consider looking at our area and what could happen, we need to take several things into consideration. First, how many schools are in our area? When you consider different schools, you have to look at elementary, middle and high. Each of these schools has buses on the road at different times of the day. If you have all three, then buses will be traveling earlier to later. If you have just one school, or no schools it will be a bit less. Next you need to consider the major roads that they have to travel, intersections and other areas where the buses could be put at higher risk. You need to look at whether there are locations where you have had previous crashes involving buses.
Your next consideration is going to be if you have the personnel and equipment resources to properly handle a bus crash. These types of incidents will require more rescue folks and more equipment than most of your typical vehicle crashes. If you lack the rescue equipment needed, then you will need to find the nearest department that has that equipment. If you have everything you require, you may still want to talk to your neighboring departments about mutual aid responses. It is better to have extra help and not need it, than to need the help and not have it. Remember, it is all about the kids. You will need to consider high probability areas for crashes and then look at the routes you would have to travel to produce a quick response. Time of day can play a major role in this, especially with work traffic either coming or going.
After you get your pre-planning done, it is time to look at your response and arrival on the scene. The one big plus on most school bus crashes, is they are built extremely tough and do not damage easily. Sometimes it only takes simple tools to gain access. As you approach the wreck scene, you will need to start thinking about vehicle placement and hazards. The biggest hazard you will encounter most of the time is other vehicle traffic and those helpful bystanders. Get traffic under control as quick as you can. Scan the scene for other hazards such as; spilled fuels, power lines, possible fire conditions and stabilization of the bus, as well as other vehicles that may be involved. These things may have to be mitigated before any extrication and patient removal can take place. Your next big assessment is going to be determining the number of students in the bus and other vehicles. The position of the bus will also determine how the children will have to be removed.
In most cases no one in the bus will be pinned, but it can happen, especially to the driver’s compartment. The problem you will encounter is you have a bus full of kids that have been tossed around like dice in a cup. Your patients will have to be removed fully packaged for spinal and neck injuries. Your assessment will be to determine the best paths to get them out.
Next issue we will look at setting up command, our IAP, stabilization, and what extrication techniques can be done to remove our precious cargo. Make sure you train when you can, and watch for classes you can attend, especially bus and heavy vehicle classes. These are not offered as much as some of the other classes. Be safe out there and train to be the best you can be.