QUEENS PARK, Ontario — In an effort to bolster school bus safety, Canadian government officials will act on recommendations by Chief Coroner Barry McLellan that will require First Aid and CPR training for school bus drivers.
McLellan also recommended adult monitors and child seats on school buses carrying children under the age of 5. Child safety restraints are under consideration as well.
“I think it makes sense that school bus drivers should have First Aid and CPR training with refresher courses,” Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar said.
Canadian officials were prompted to explore safety measures after the unexplained death of a 4-year-old girl who was found unconscious on the floor of her school bus.
Allyceea Ennis was en route to her daycare center on Feb. 12 when she somehow slipped onto the bus floor. Although autopsy reports did not cite an exact cause of death, investigators speculated that pressure on the girl’s neck by her balaclava, a type of hood, may have cut off blood flow to her brain.
In a statement to Globeandmail.com, McLellan suggested the possibility that another student may have strangled the girl, who weighed less than 40 pounds, but he ruled the cause of death as “undetermined.”
McLellan reviewed police and autopsy reports and offered recommendations that could help prevent or reduce the likelihood of this type of incident happening again.
“Nothing is more important than getting our kids to and from school safely,” Takhar said. “We will move as quickly as possible on the coroner’s recommendations.”
Other school bus safety measures under investigation by the Canadian government include requiring new school buses to have a crossing arm to help children cross in front of the bus at a safe distance. This initiative will go into effect at the beginning of 2005.
Lawmakers are currently in the second round of debating legislation that, if passed, will allow police officers to press charges against motorists who ignore the flashing red lights and illegally pass a school bus.