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April 10, 2012  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Emergency preparedness: How’s your department’s ‘C3’?

Developing an emergency preparedness plan based on command, control and communication can help to reduce injuries and potentially save lives. Building relationships with first responders can ensure your operation’s viability in the emergency response cycle by bringing awareness of what it has to offer during crises.

by Phillip A. Haldaman

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Phillip Haldaman is transportation supervisor at Dean Transportation Inc. in Traverse City, Mich. He is also the Region 5 representative for the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation.
<p>Phillip Haldaman is transportation supervisor at Dean Transportation Inc. in Traverse City, Mich. He is also the Region 5 representative for the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation.</p>
When I served our local school district as transportation director, I often made old school buses available to our police, fire and EMS personnel to train on. Because our local airport handles a number of smaller commuter flights, even its fire response personnel wanted to get in on the act since the interior of a school bus closely resembles the interior of smaller planes that operate out of the airport. That, in turn, attracted the attention of our local Transportation Security Administration, which used that environment for counter-terrorism training. 

Dean Transportation Inc., through the auspices of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District in Traverse City, Mich., continues to embrace the value of such relationships, having recently donated another school bus to a fire department for use in its emergency response training. Once these assets are used up, they’re sold for their scrap value, with the sale proceeds returned to the general fund — that’s a win-win for all concerned.

Share your plans with district administrators  
So how’s your department’s C3 relative to emergency/crisis management? Hopefully you have active response plans and mutual aid agreements in place and practice using them at least annually to ensure success if ever faced with an emergency for which you need to quickly deploy your available “yellow iron.” 

As school districts across the country are being asked to invest in their readiness by institutionalizing sound C3/ICS principles, it makes sense to start now by having well thought out plans in place to help reduce/mitigate risk, and to identify or remove potential barriers to the operational success of our respective transportation departments. 

Once those plans are in place, share as much up and down your school district’s chain of command — you can’t over-communicate that kind of critical intelligence with school administrators and stakeholders, who will probably thank you for the effort.

Could it be that the yellow school bus will then be seen as not only the vital extension of the educational process that it is, but as an indispensible part of your school’s emergency response plan? That would be a win-win for your department and the community that you faithfully serve.

For more information on how schools can become more progressive in establishing effective emergency response plans, go to “MI-TRAIN” at, run jointly by the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness.

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