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Oakridge Public Schools, Fruitport Community Schools, and Ravenna Public Schools collaborated on a School Bus Safety Training Exercise for 45 of their school bus drivers that included safety drills organized by Egelston Township Fire Department and Muskegon County Sheriff Department. This unique training involved emergency response activities involving an actual ‘tipped over’ school bus replicating an accident scenario.  

“I don’t think many of the drivers were expecting it to be so difficult to move through a bus on its side,” remarked Carrie Whipple, Transportation Director for Oakridge Public Schools. “We wanted these drivers to experience a worst-case scenario and to physically move through the bus on its side while accessing the emergency exits.”

School district bus drivers went through three areas of safety training prior to the 2018/19 school year. Drivers had to walk through the tipped bus, open emergency doors and hatches, and climb through emergency doors and windows. “You don’t expect the emergency door to be so heavy,” said one driver. The door itself weighs over one hundred pounds. Lieutenant Dan Brentana, Egelston Township Fire Department, lead this exercise to teach drivers how to properly open the door quickly to evacuate kids on board a bus safely and efficiently.

Drivers also went through fire extinguisher training and a classroom discussion with the Sheriff’s Department. “Drivers and substitute drivers need to be able to handle a multitude of emergency scenarios on a moment’s notice,” continues Whipple. “They need to know how to handle everything from an angry car driver to a serious accident. Having Muskegon County Sheriff Deputy Jason VanAndel here to explain the proper way to handle different situations is such a great learning opportunity for all three school districts.”

Much like in-school emergency drills, a school district transportation department will run scenario-based evacuation drills with students throughout the school year. “We take great pride in training our school building staff in a variety of scenario-based drills,” Oakridge Public Schools Superintendent Tom Livezey commented. “I completely support the efforts of our Transportation Department being equally trained in how to handle their own scenarios. Today’s exercise was truly a unique experience that we were happy to share with local school districts.”

Oakridge Board of Education Trustee Mikel Smith, Jr. attended the event as well. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s not every day you can walk through a bus on its side. I appreciate these drivers and their dedication to not only our students at Oakridge but other districts as well. You could see how serious they took this exercise”.

Learn more about the Oakridge Wellness Network that Oakridge Public Schools has established, and its Balanced Approach to School Safety on our website

Classroom Lesson with Sheriff Classroom Lesson with Sheriff Classroom Lesson with Sheriff Climbing Through Emergency Roof Exit Drivers walk through bus Fire Extinguisher Training Fire Extinguishing Training (2) Fire Extinguishing Training (3).jpg Fruitport Ravenna and Oakridge school districts Bus Training Learning to Open Emergency Roof Exits Muskegon County Transportation Training Exercise Oakridge Transportation Director Carrie Whipple Opening the Emergency Door (2) Opening the Emergency Door walking through bus on its side

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