During a bus crash drill at one of Perth Amboy (N.J.) Public Schools' elementary sites, fire department personnel practiced evacuating students and putting some on stretchers.
Photo courtesy Edmund Treadaway Jr.
PERTH AMBOY, N.J. — Perth Amboy Public Schools’ transportation team recently held a full-scale bus accident drill in partnership with several of the city’s departments with the aim of better preparing everyone involved in the event of an actual emergency.
The drill, which was held at one of the district’s elementary schools on April 16, was nine months in the making, and approximately 100 people participated. This included the pupil transportation staff, the district’s security team, a camera crew, fire and police department personnel, an EMS team and students.
Perth Amboy Public Schools Transportation Manager Edmund Treadaway told SBF that the drill simulated a school bus full of students being hit by a drunken driver. Eighteen students from a local performing arts school pretended to sustain injuries ranging from broken arms to head wounds.
“We wanted the kids to realize that in a real emergency, you can’t lose your head — you have to stay calm,” Treadaway said.
The fire department cut open the bus (which had been retired from service) and evacuated students, putting some on stretchers to be transported to Raritan Bay Medical Center. Treadaway said students were transported to the medical center in order to test the staff’s ability to handle a large group of patients in an emergency.
“In the city, we don’t have enough ambulances to take that many students to a hospital, so the county has an ambulance bus that can hold 14 to 20 stretchers, so they brought that in to get the kids to the hospital. It would be used in an actual crash,” Treadaway explained.
The entire drill was filmed by the district’s cable station staff, and a camera crew was also filming the triage at the medical center. The video will be used for training purposes, with copies going to Perth Amboy Public Schools’ transportation department, the city’s police and fire departments, the emergency response team and the medical center staff.
Treadaway said that the emergency responders made one mistake during the drill: They miscounted the number of students on the bus.
“That’s a big issue, so they realized that they have to be more diligent,” he said, but he also noted that overall, they now feel better prepared to handle this type of accident.
The fire department team found the drill especially helpful, Treadaway added, because many on the team had never been given an opportunity to cut open a bus, so they didn’t have previous knowledge of the structural integrity of a school bus.
(Leading up to the drill, Treadaway lent the team one of the buses in his fleet for study and research purposes, and they watched a video from “How It’s Made” of an IC Bus being built.)
“I was really pleased with the outcome,” Treadaway said of the bus crash drill. “Anytime you have a test of your abilities, it’s a good thing.”
To see photos taken by Treadaway's son, Edmund Treadaway Jr., of Perth Amboy Public Schools’ bus crash drill, check out this gallery.