Baldwin County (Ala.) Schools' May 27 driver symposium will feature emergency evacuation training. Shown here is a training session during last year's event.

Baldwin County (Ala.) Schools' May 27 driver symposium will feature emergency evacuation training. Shown here is a training session during last year's event.

ROBERTSDALE, Ala. — A school district here is holding a driver training and appreciation event at the end of the month that will include emergency and active shooter training, and a luncheon and raffle.

Baldwin County Public Schools' Driver Symposium will be held on May 27 at the Robertsdale Fairgrounds. The event will feature hands-on training for drivers on evacuating an overturned school bus and other emergency evacuation procedures taught by first responder groups and district transportation department mechanics, said Anthony Pollard, the transportation supervisor for Baldwin County Public Schools.

Local fire department and paramedics staff, National Guard soldiers, and transportation department mechanics will teach sessions on front- and rear-door emergency evacuation, how to evacuate a smoking bus, and bus first aid with other items onboard the bus in addition to the first aid kit, and how to use an emergency blanket. Four National Guard soldiers will act as injured and panicking students and will show drivers the best way to help them, Pollard added.

The mechanics will also train drivers on using new digital two-way radios that were recently purchased by the county, Pollard said.

During the training, attendees will be evaluated on criteria such as level of participation and interaction and will score drivers on each session.

About 300 drivers, paraeducators, and other school transportation staff are expected to attend. Every driver will receive a certificate for participating in the training.

In addtion to educating the drivers on how to react in emergencies, Pollard also looks forward to the opportunity to gather the bus drivers over lunch and raffle to thank them for their hard work, he added. The lunch and raffle are sponsored by vendors such as Ward International, Pitman Insurance, Empire Trucks, Burger King, and chambers of commerce from several state counties.

After the raffle, a review, based on guidance from Transportation Safety Administration training, will be conducted to assess strengths and provide recommendations to attendees.

The symposium that the school district held last year included training from FBI staff members, first responders, and law enforcement. Breakout sessions covered behavior management, first aid, active shooter training, and wheelchair lift training.

Based on last year’s experience, Pollard wants to make sure that all drivers in attendance are able to get more hands-on involvement in the overturned school bus training.

“We need to get the drivers on the ground, involved in the action,” he said.  

Last year’s symposium, which was inspired in part by the tragic shooting of Charles Poland in 2013, was the first to be held by the district.

“The goal was to do something for the drivers at the end of the year," Pollard added. "We thought it was going to be a luncheon, but then we thought we could do more. This year’s goal was to provide emergency training.”

For more information on this event, contact Anthony Pollard at APollard1@bcbe.org and (215) 370-3175.

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