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April 21, 2011  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Planning and Training Increase School Bus Security

Pupil transporters discuss the policies and procedures they have established at their operations to keep students and staff members safe. They also share the training resources they utilize, including state associations, First Observer and courses offered by FEMA.

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Employees at Centralia/Chehalis Pupil Transportation Cooperative discuss security issues during their summer training session.
<p>Employees at Centralia/Chehalis Pupil Transportation Cooperative discuss security issues during their summer training session.</p>

Statewide and national training resources

In addition to reviewing her operation's emergency plan and procedures with her drivers, Houck often sends them to classes offered by the Oregon Pupil Transportation Association during its summer workshop, where they can learn about the programs that other districts have implemented.

Employees at The Trans Group LLC in Spring Valley, N.Y., receive a substantial amount of security training.

James Rogan, director of safety and training, says drivers are instructed on proper techniques for conducting a sweep of their bus in conjunction with their daily pre- and post-trip inspections, and on procedures for reporting and documenting anything that they find.

Moreover, within the first year of service, drivers are enrolled in the First Observer program. The program is taught in tandem with the required New York State Education Department's basic training course for school bus drivers.

"We are in the process of having all safety staff members complete training with FEMA's Emergency Management Institute in the National Incident Management System's Communications and Information Management and Incident Command System components," Rogan adds.

The Trans Group is also planning to host a focus group session conducted by Rutgers University.

"The university is developing a school bus driver training program on communicating security concerns to students," Rogan says. "We look forward to incorporating this curriculum into our security training program once it has been completed."

School Bus First Observer focuses on anti-terrorist awareness
A nationwide security training program is available to pupil transporters at no cost: School Bus First Observer.

The program features an anti-terrorist awareness training curriculum that focuses on the unique features of school bus transportation. Topics covered include morning checks of school buses and an equipment inspection, as well as taking note of suspicious activity at scheduled stops, and protective actions to employ in the event that a bus driver notices such activity.

The curriculum was developed by HMS Co. in Alexandria, Va. Charles Hall, First Observer program manager and president of HMS Co., says that there are several training mediums available in the First Observer program:

End User Training: Typically referred to as "classroom training," end user training allows an organization to bring all of its employees or end users together for instruction. The minimum number of people required to schedule this type of training is 20.

Train-the-Trainer (TTT) Training: These sessions are designed to certify training personnel to conduct First Observer training. TTT training is available for states, state associations, contractor associations and other groups.

"People interested in participating in these sessions should have at least one year of experience providing instruction and be recommended by their respective organizations," Hall explains. "A minimum 12 people are required to schedule First Observer TTT sessions."

Hall also notes that TTT sessions are conducted by First Observer master trainers in a classroom or webcasting environment.

Web-Based Training: This training medium consists of a PowerPoint presentation with video inserts that participants can access at their leisure. Upon completion, the trainee will be prompted to answer a few short review questions. A First Observer card and certifi cate can be printed after the questions have been satisfactorily completed.

Hall says that anyone can enroll in the School Bus First Observer program by calling (888) 217-5902. Visit for additional information.

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