EUGENE, Ore. — Security training was the hot topic during an interactive one-day training event for Oregon student transportation professionals on Feb. 23.
The Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) South Willamette chapter held its annual Winter Workshop at First Baptist Church, drawing 868 attendees from 54 school districts and locations statewide.
The workshop’s theme was “How Will You Respond? Active Threat Training for School Bus Drivers."
School bus safety expert Dr. Nancy Blackwelder reviewed training topics that are essential for bus drivers and aides in her presentation “How Bus Drivers Get Into Trouble.” On the lighter side, in “You Know You Work In Transportation If...” Blackwelder took a humorous look at situations that are unique to the transportation field.
In a presentation titled “Active Threat Training for School Bus Drivers,” Chris Ellison, the director of transportation at Eugene School District 4J, and local law enforcement officers discussed how to respond in various threat situations, and proper communication of perceived and actual threats, Ellison told SBF. He reminded attendees to “be alert to anything and everything happening around their bus.”
Video vignettes produced by OPTA, which acted out "what-if" scenarios and resolutions were also shown at the workshop. Scenarios included a kindergartner finding his mother's gun and bringing it onto the bus to show other students; a parent forcing his way onto the bus to confront a student who bullied his son with a weapon; a student boarding the bus with guns stashed in his guitar case and the occurrence of a school shooting; and a man casing a school bus stop, boarding the bus through the side emergency door, and taking those aboard the bus hostage.
Attendees then watched an active threat response field exercise, which was put on by the Eugene Police Department SWAT team.
Workshop attendees earned seven hours of classroom credit through the Oregon Department of Education. Ellison said the event was “a major success.”
See photos of the 2019 workshop here.