With results of a recent survey showing that many school transportation professionals want more guidance on active shooters and other security threats, the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) is working on new resources specific to school bus security.
NAPT's safety and security survey gave the association insight into school bus operations' current security-related training and procedures, as well as what they may need more of.
Mike Martin, executive director of NAPT, told SBF that the project began in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December, and then it took on added urgency when Alabama school bus driver Charles Poland was shot and killed the following month.
"We've done a lot to make school buses safer, but clearly we need to do something more," Martin said. "We have to be open to new ideas, explore new technologies and re-examine the things we do."
The association put together a steering committee for the security project and recruited volunteers to help determine the course of action. The consensus for the best first step: ask people what they need.
A comprehensive security survey was sent out to NAPT members, and 500 responded.
Martin said that one of the key findings is that many pupil transportation officials want to bolster their security-related training. When asked whether they feel that their operation's safety/security awareness training is adequate, 43% of respondents said "no" and 25% said "not sure."
Also, survey responses indicated a need for more specific procedures that should be followed in the case of an active shooter or other violent encounter.
"They want to know what we should do if we're ever in that situation," Martin said. "And, more important, what we can do to avoid being in that situation."
Martin noted that a commonly recommended response to shooting attacks is "run, hide, fight," but he said that the logistics of that approach have to be considered for the school bus environment.
"In a school bus, how do you run and where do you hide?" he said. "We need to adapt that — what do we literally do?"
To that end, NAPT is working to develop a training program that would be short but very specific about logistics and tactics. The program would only take around 15 minutes, with the idea being that it would be practiced frequently.
"The approach would be more like fire drill training," Martin said. "If you do something that's 10 or 15 minutes long several times per year, you're going to be more prepared."
The survey results will also be used in developing security-related content for this fall's NAPT Summit in Grand Rapids, Mich.
A few highlights from the survey are presented in this PDF.