Driver keeps students safe during bus breakdown

Nicole Miller
Posted on October 2, 2013

Robin Smith, a bus driver for Volusia County Schools, safely evacuated the students from her bus after she noticed smoke coming from the rear of the vehicle.
Robin Smith, a bus driver for Volusia County Schools, safely evacuated the students from her bus after she noticed smoke coming from the rear of the vehicle.
DELAND, Fla. — In the afternoon on Sept. 9, Ms. Robin Smith, a bus driver for Volusia County Schools, was transporting students from Blue Lake Elementary when she heard a loud noise and saw billowing black and white smoke coming from the rear of her bus.

She pulled over, evacuated her students from the bus and radioed dispatch to give her location.

Volusia County Schools’ student transportation services department experiences technical breakdown of equipment and reacts as such. But for a parent who was standing at the stop waiting for the bus to arrive, seeing black smoke coming from the back and the bus slowly pulling over with her child on board, it was frightening.

The parent wrote the following letter to the department:

Today, as I was waiting for the bus, I noticed as it was turning onto Oleander from 1st that there was a huge cloud of smoke billowing from the back of the bus.

I said to another mom, "It looks like the bus is on fire.” Then I saw the bus safely pull over and children single-filed but moving quickly, evacuating the bus. I started running as fast as I could.  

When I got to the bus, Ms. Robin had all the children gathered outside and together. She checked all the seats and then radioed for help before getting off the bus.

None of the children were crying or scared. Ms. Robin was very quick to act without scaring any of the children.  

Another mom started driving to other bus stops to let waiting parents know that the bus had broken down, and many cars started arriving.

Not only did Ms. Robin maintain calmness with the children, she also verified which child was leaving with which vehicle/parent.

As I stood in the background (a little in shock), I helped tie shoes and hold backpacks for kiddos. Ms. Robin acted amazingly, I'm very grateful for her and her quick response to the situation.

I don't know what caused the smoke; it might have been just a mechanical breakdown or engine fire. I don't know much about mechanical things. But as a parent, seeing the bus your child is on smoking like that is a terrifying feeling — more than I can put into words. Ms. Robin had the bus evacuated faster than I could run the two blocks to get there (and I run pretty fast).

Bus drivers have a very tough job that comes with a ton of responsibility. Today, I want to say thank you to Ms. Robin, her supervising department and Blue Lake Elementary for all the effort that goes in to making sure our kids are safe.

It might sound silly, but I'm actually a bit shook up just thinking about all the other possible outcomes with all those precious children. The situation could have been so much worse in so many ways. I'm grateful beyond words that it was not.

Thank you, Ms. Robin, for all that you do for the kids on [route] 405 every day that usually go unnoticed. Today you are my hero. Thank you.

This bus had blown its turbo, causing the breakdown. We want to thank Ms. Smith for acting accordingly to ensure the safety and well-being of her students. You did just as you were trained to do, and we commend you for this.  

Nicole Miller is an area operations manager for Volusia County Schools.

Related Topics: Florida

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