NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — In preparation for the new school year, school bus company DATTCO has introduced two new components to its bus driver safety training: active shooter and school bus security awareness.
Designed to follow Transportation Security Administration and federal guidelines, the training covers being more aware of surroundings, what to do in the event of an active shooter situation, and proven tactics to disarm and overtake an active shooter if necessary.
Drivers are given tactics to help them respond to situations such as a weapon being fired or an intruder getting on the bus. They also learn how to use the bus as a defense mechanism and how to handle a bomb threat.
Drivers are also taught “seven steps to safety” that can be utilized to meet the primary objectives in these situations, which are to escape harm and ensure rapid deployment of first responders to the scene while minimizing injury and collateral damage, according to the company.
“As the children are excited to meet their new bus drivers and teachers, it is unfortunate that we must think about things like active shooters on a bus, or in a school,” said Donald DeVivo, president of DATTCO. “But our priority is to keep our passengers and employees safe.”
In response to an incident in February 2018, the training also covers what to do if an active shooter event is occurring at a school pickup or drop-off location, and how drivers should act and react if they are assisting with driving for an evacuation scenario.
DATTCO drivers played an essential role in responding to a shooting threat against Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. Drivers came quickly from wherever they were and helped coordinate an orderly early dismissal, getting the students out of harm’s way. Drivers and management staff members received praise for their actions from the school’s administration and staff, and from parents of the students, according to DATTCO.
As a result of the training, drivers will now look for anything that is out of place, and they have been instructed on what to do if they find something suspicious during pre-trip inspections.
The training has also enabled DATTCO to establish uniform guidelines on how to respond to a security threat or incident, whether present or anticipated. The guidelines are designed help drivers make proper notifications and take appropriate DATTCO-authorized actions should they encounter any situation involving or having the potential to cause injury, alarm, panic, or disruption.
“We have a robust safety program at DATTCO, which includes asking all employees to take the ‘Safety Starts with Me’ pledge,” said Pam Martinez, vice president of human resources and risk management for DATTCO. “Adding this component was a natural progression, given the unfortunate rise in school shootings.”
DATTCO currently services more than two dozen school districts throughout Connecticut and in Rhode Island, transporting more than 110,000 students daily during the school year.
Additionally, the company received the International Motorcoach Group’s (IMG's) Safety Award earlier this year. IMG presents the annual award to a company that has demonstrated the highest level of safety throughout their organization.