Fitness for duty and emergency response were the focus of the OPTA Winter Workshop in Eugene, Ore. Max Christensen, an executive officer for school transportation at the Iowa Department of Education, detailed for attendees lessons learned from a fatal school bus fire in his state. Photo courtesy Chris Ellison

Fitness for duty and emergency response were the focus of the OPTA Winter Workshop in Eugene, Ore. Max Christensen, an executive officer for school transportation at the Iowa Department of Education, detailed for attendees lessons learned from a fatal school bus fire in his state. Photo courtesy Chris Ellison

EUGENE, Ore. — Fitness for duty and responding effectively to emergencies were the focus of a one-day training event held here for state pupil transportation professionals on Feb. 22.

The Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) South Willamette Chapter held its annual Winter Workshop at First Baptist Church. The workshop drew a “record-breaking” 967 attendees from 48 school districts and locations across the state, Chris Ellison, OPTA’s president and the director of transportation at Eugene School District 4J, told School Bus Fleet.

The workshop’s theme was “Fit for Duty, Drugs and Emergencies." Presentations covered topics ranging from responding to a school shooting to lessons learned from a fatal school bus fire in Iowa to new federal drug and alcohol guidelines to clarification on CBD oil.

In the presentation titled, “Responding to an Actual Violent Crisis,” Trent Lovett, the superintendent for Marshall County Schools in Benton, Ky., recounted the events of a tragic school shooting that occurred at Marshall County High School on Jan. 23, 2018 and the steps taken in the aftermath. Lovett also described the steps taken district-wide over the next several days, weeks, and months to help calm fears throughout the community.

Additionally, attendees heard a first-hand account from the father of a student who was inside the school, Ellison said.

Max Christensen, an executive officer for school transportation at the Iowa Department of Education, detailed for attendees the timeline of the challenges involved in learning of the tragic Oakland, Iowa, school bus fire, responding to it, and working with various teams, including National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) staff members.

Shown here is speaker Gené Henderson, who discussed misinformation about CBD oil. Photo courtesy Chris Ellison

Shown here is speaker Gené Henderson, who discussed misinformation about CBD oil. Photo courtesy Chris Ellison

Gené Henderson, the owner of Henderson Consulting and EAP Services, discussed the confusion and misinformation about CBD oil in her presentation “CBD Oil and School Bus Drivers Don't Mix.” Unregulated CBD oil could contain a fair amount of THC, Henderson said, which a safety-sensitive employee such as a school bus driver may not know. Using the product could lead to testing positive for a federally banned substance, she added.

Workshop attendees earned six hours of classroom credit through the Oregon Department of Education.

The workshop earned "exemplary reviews" from the day’s presentations, Ellison said.

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