Education Standards

Emergency Evacuation of Special Needs Students From a School Bus

Emergency Evacuation of Special Needs Students From a School Bus

Overview

This lesson includes procedures ensuring the full participation of students and staff with special needs and disabilities through the planning and implementation of preparedness, response and recovery strategies as part of the overall management of school bus emergencies and disasters with special needs students.

Students with special needs are those who cannot comfortably or safely access and use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, relief and recovery, whether their disability is chronic or temporary.

Table of Contents

SECTION 1

Table of Contents

SECTION 2

Introduction 

Goals and objectives of this course 

SECTION 3

Preparation and Planning

SECTION 4

Pre-trip Inspection of Your School Bus

Pre-trip Inspection Report

Pre-trip Inspection Procedures

Videos: School Bus Pre-trip training part 1 By Therese Mileti of the Centerville City School District in Centerville, Ohio.

School Bus Pre-trip training part 2 By Therese Mileti of the Centerville City School District in Centerville, Ohio.

Pre-trip Quiz

Pre-trip Quiz Answer Sheet

Bus Maintentance Report

Emergency Evacuation Drill Form 

SECTION 5

Emergency Evacuation of Special Needs Students From a School Bus

Video:  School Bus Emergency Evacuation Drills for the Special Needs Students By Therese Mileti of the Centerville City School District in Centerville, Ohio.

Emergency Evacuation Steps

"How to Safely Evacuate a Special Needs School Bus", from Merlot - Remix 

from Merlot:  added to the OER Commons

Test

Answer Key 

Videos: "How to Safely Evacuate a Special Needs School Bus", A Video Communications / Vidcom Production

"Special Ed School Bus Evacuation", A Go Video Production

SECTION 6

Additional Resources, Information, and Links:

NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

National Safety Council

First Student

Iowa Department of Education

Cedar Falls Community School District Bus Drivers Manual

Emergency Plan For Student With Special Needs For Marin County School District pdf

State of Iowa School Bus Driver Handbook pdf

Rubric for this lesson

Introduction

 A special education bus driver has a lot to remember about your vehicle, motor vehicle laws and safety, as well as your students. While transporting special needs students with physical disabilities you will need to drive the bus in a manner that will not injure students with low muscle tone or other physical ailments. Some students display emotional or behavioral disabilities which requires you to intervene and interact with them. A key to a successful school bus evacuation is preparation. Here are some of the key concepts you will need to apply when developing an emergency evacuation plan for special needs students.

A special needs school bus
A Special Needs School Bus

Goals:

  • Define an emergency situation.
  • Define a non-emergency situation.
  • Best way to help avoid emergency situations.
  • Knowledge of school bus functions and structure.
  • Knowledge of your passengers.
  • Your passengers or students know school bus safety functions.

Objectives:

  • Knowledge of an emergency situation on a school bus in which you need to evacuate your special needs students within two minutes.
  • Knowledge of two non-emergency situations where sheltering in place is needed.
  • Preparation, planning techniques and requirements used to best avoid or prepare you for a school bus emergency evacuation.
  • With prepared forms you will be able to perform a pre-trip inspection of a school bus.
  • Using prepared forms, you’ll be able to prepare your own emergency evacuation plan geared to the requirement of your passengers and emergency situations. 
  • The passengers or students will be able to set the parking brake, use communication devises, and operate emergency exits.

​​​​​​

The rear of the special needs bus. Note the handicapped sticker
The rear of the special needs bus. Note the handicapped sticker

 

Preparation and Planning

The most important part of an evacuation plan is prior planning. School bus emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime, involve anyone, and involve your own passengers with various capabilities.  Weather conditions, road surface conditions, construction, time of day or day of the week, or your own passengers can be contributing factors in your emergency situations.   Develop contingency plans for as many situations as possible.

  • Sudden disability of the bus driver
  • Weather event
  • Road hazard or failure

Prepare a list:

  1. What student are ambulatory or need assistance walking.
  2. Which students can help others?
  3. Know length of time a student needs for medical care or evacuation purposes.
  4. Know how your students will possibly behave during and evacuation.
    • Extreme fear of heights
    • Will walk off
    • Will have a seizure if excited
  5. Identify which students will go first, second,…. last.
  6. Assign Bus Buddies. Pair up in teams of 2 to 3 students. (Depending on how frequently they ride) Assign higher functioning students with lower functioning students.
    • They student should be able to tell the driver if their Bus Buddy is riding that day or where they are located.
  7.  Assign students to help carry emergency equipment off the bus when evacuating.
  8. If you have a paraprofessional, educational associate or nurse riding let them know their role in and emergency situation.  

 

International                       Blue Bird                      Ford                                             

You may be driving one of several different types of school buses. Learn those differences in seating configurations and exits.

 

Lift door toward the back of the bus
Lift door toward the back of the bus

 

Lift door toward the back of the bus
Lift door toward
the back of the bus
Lift door toward the front of the bus
Lift door toward the front of the bus
Lift door toward the back of the bus
Lift door toward
the front of the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safe Driving and Riding Practices

Good student behavior while entering, exiting, and riding the bus positively contributes in many ways to safe transportation.  Training students use handrails, use proper noise levels, seatbelts, proper sitting position, and keep belongings and feet out of the center aisle. Develop safe bus operating habits and assure that you are rested.

 

 Pre-trip School Bus Inspection

One of the most important aspects of preparation and planning is the pre-trip school bus inspection. The next section will cover what you will need to know and look for in preventing and help keep your school bus running emergency free.

 

Reasons to Evacuate:

Executive Order 13347, signed by George W. Bush on July 22, 2004, states that individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness, which adds to existing legislation policy to ensure that the safety and security of individuals with disabilities are appropriately supported and requires public entities to include the unique needs of individuals with disabilities in their emergency preparedness planning.

Pre-trip Inspection of Your School Bus

Open the pre-trip inspection report sheet and pre-trip inspection procedures. Follow along with the videos. School buses vary in models, size and features but most pre-trip forms follow standard state and federal guidelines.

PRE-TRIP INSPECTION PROCEDURES OF YOUR SCHOOL BUS

SEE: 

Pre-Trip Inspection Report Sheet

Pre-Trip Inspection Procedures by AAESA Area Education Service Agency pdf

Emergency Evacuation Drill Form pdf

 

 

Videos:  By Therese Mileti of the Centerville City School District in Centerville, Ohio.

School Bus Pre-trip training part 1, 2020 Blue Bird RE, engine and walk around

 

School Bus Pre-trip training, Part 2 inside the bus, with brake tests.

                                                                                                                                     

Check stop arm operation and lights
Check stop arm operation and lights

                      

Emergency Fire Blanket
Locate the emergency fire blanket
(not all buses will have these)
Emergency Fire Blanket
Emergency fire blanket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locate First Aid Kit and Body Fluids Kit
Locate your Body Fluid Cleanup Kit and First Aid Kit​​​​​​

 

 

 

 

Locate Fire Extinguisher
Locate your fire extinguisher
making sure it's completely charged 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check emergency hoof hatch
Check emergency roof hatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locate all emergency side windows
Locate all emergency side windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locate the first aid kit and body fluids
Locate the first aid kit and body fluids cleanup kit
These locations can vary from bus to bus 

 

Pre-Trip Quiz

 

  1. A school bus driver must check the alternately flashing amber lights indicator, the alternately flashing red lights indicator and the strobe light indicator, making sure all light are operable.
    • a.  True
    • b.  False
  2. Check the stop arm to see that it is mounted securely to the left side of the school bus.
    • a.  True
    • b.  False
  3. As you are checking the special needs lift, the things that you should look for are:
    • a.  Leaking, damaged wheel chairs.
    • b.  Leaking, damaged, or missing parts and the lift must be 25 percent retracted and latched.
    • c.  Leaking, damaged or missing parts and correctly operational with fully retracting and latched.
  4. Make sure all emergency exits are:
    • a. Not damaged, open and close securely and the warning devices are working.
    • b.  Not damaged, and all exits operate in unison.
    • c.  Are clean and sercure with no air leaks.
  5. While performing your pre-trip inspection, you need to check for broken seat frames, the seat is firmly attached to the floor and that the seat upholstery is not damaged.
    • a.  True
    • b.  False
  6. The exit/entry hand rails and stair light should be checked during your pre-trip inspection.
    • a.  True
    • b.  False
  7. During you pre-trip inspection it is mandatory that you get on top of the bus to check the strobe light.
    • a.  True
    • b.  False
  8. During your pre-trip inspection, the bus should have:
    • a.  First aid kit, burning flares, flags, and fire extinguisher.
    • b.  First aid kit, burning flares, triangles, and fire extinguisher.
    • c.  First aid kit, burning flares, triangles, tire pressure gauge, and fire extinguisher.
  9. As you are checking around the outside of the bus, you check for:
    • a.  The air brake system.
    • b.  Dripping fluids or puddles on the ground below the engine.
    • c.  Hanging objects under the bus and damage to the exhaust system.
    • d.  Dents or damage to the outside body of the bus.
    • e.  b, c, d
  10.  What is not checked in the engine compartment:
    • a.  The coolant level.
    • b.  The oil pressure.
    • c.  The power steering fluid.
    • d.  The level of the oil.

 

 

Emergency Evacuation of Special Needs Students From a School Bus

After reviewing this entire lesson, start preparing an emergency evacuation plan starting with the blank “Bus Buddies Emergency Evacuation Form” (found in Section 4) Emergency Evacuation Bus Buddies Form

See: How to Evacuate Special Needs Students From a School Bus pdf.

Video:  

By Therese Mileti of the Centerville City School District in Centerville, Ohio.

"School Bus emergency evacuation drills: special needs, wheelchair lifts and CSRS devices."

Preparation for Evacuations

Knowing the locations of all emergency exits and seating arrangements can be critical when evacuating a school bus. If smoke limits the driver’s visibility or when outside and inside light is not available, the driver must commit to memory exit locations and key safety devices. This will ensure that the students can evacuate the bus in the most efficient manner.

Seat assignments can help in student accountability.  Also assign Bus Buddies. The students can help in knowing if and where other students are located.

The order in which you evacuate students is an important consideration. If an evacuation becomes necessary, it is quicker and easier to first evacuate ambulatory students. Next, you should evacuate wheelchair students. However, if your ambulatory students have behavioral disorders, do not evacuate them first unless they are accompanied by an aid or the driver.

 

Prepare Mentally

An emergency evacuation of the school bus can be a traumatic event. Special education bus drivers should rely on their training and knowledge of what actions to take during such a crisis. The key is to stay calm and focused. You should concentrate on the task at hand and not on the negative consequences that COULD take place. Don’t let the fear of the evacuation distract from your overall purpose of getting the students to safety.

 

Maintain Personal Safety

Speed becomes particularly important during an evacuation. And make sure you don’t ignore your own personal safety when evacuating students off the bus. When lifting, kneeling or carrying students, you should use proper body mechanics. You should always lift with your legs and not your back. When kneeling, do so in a manner that will not require over stretching. Over stretching could strain your back. Do all you can to protect your back from injury, you can’t evacuate the students if you are injured. Remember, don’t rush and compromise proper body mechanics when evacuating the bus.

 

NON-EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURES

A non-emergency evacuation is one in which the speed of the evacuation is not critical to the safety of the students.

The only time you should evacuate a bus is when students will be safer being off of the bus than being on the bus. Two good examples include a bus that is stalled on a busy road way and another example is a bus that breaks down around a blind corner. In both these examples students are safer staying on the bus.

 

During any emergency prepare to put the receiver in neutral and put the parking brake on.

Parking Brake
Prepare to set your parking brake

 

Set parking brake by pulling out button
Set parking brake by pulling out button

 

 

Parking brake is popped out - air brakes are set
Parking brake is popped out - parking brake is set
Emergency release lever
Emergency release lever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare to Evacuate Students

  1. Activate your hazards to warn motorists approaching the bus from either direction.
  2. Set your parking brake or bleed down air brakes.
  3. Alert dispatch of the evacuation. Let them know your location and any other viable information, such as injuries to students.
  4. Secure the bus and take the key from the ignition.
  5. Hang the CB handset out the driver’s window.  By doing this, you can still communicate with dispatch if it is safe and becomes necessary to do so.
  6. Let students on the bus know that they will be evacuating the bus. Special needs students may be thrown off by the sudden change in routine.
  7. Take the fire extinguisher (A student may help in carrying the extinguisher).
  8. Take the first aid kit (A student may help in carrying the kit).
  9. Take the fire blanket.

Scenarios

  1. Each emergency is different. You will need to decide what situation warrants who and where to evacuate.  If none of the students on the bus have major behavioral disabilities, the driver can evacuate a wheelchair student first. And if there were students with behavioral problems you would want to leave them on the bus. They will be safer there then letting them off the bus in an unsupervised environment.

 If the speed of the evacuation is not critical, then evacuate the wheelchair students first and keep other students on board the bus.

  1. A driver releases the tie downs and unload her wheelchair student first. The driver then comes into the bus and informs the other students that it is time to evacuate. Since there is no immediate emergency, the driver has the students evacuate out the front service door. She gives them a location to go to that is approximately 100 feet from the bus and far from the roadway.

When evacuating the bus, you should give students a tangible object to go to such as a tree or a sign.

  1. The bus begins to fill with smoke, obviously, if smoke begins to fill the bus, there is a possibility of a fire on board placing students and the driver in a dangerous situation. The first decision to make is where to pull the bus over. In an emergency situation such as this, you want to get the bus over as soon as you have even a suspicion that there may be a fire on board. Then you would:
  • Alert dispatch of the situation. Be sure to let them know the area you are at and any injuries that may have occurred to the students or yourself.
  • Smoke begins coming in from the front of the bus and close to where the driver is sitting. The driver makes the call to evacuate students at the rear of the bus to minimize the risk of the students walking out of the front service door and possibly sustaining injuries.
  • If a bus is experiencing mechanical problems, but is not in immediate danger, students should wait on that bus until another arrives. Once the backup bus arrives, they can then be safely transferred.

 

Key Points

  1. Remember to give special needs students direct instructions. They will not remember a laundry list of details. So, let them know what needs to be done right at that moment.
  2. Give the students a visual object at a safe distance from the bus and any traffic that may be traveling on the roadways. Objects such as a tree or sign as good identifiers.
  3. The bus needs to be evacuated quickly.  Get the ambulatory students off of the bus first, then have them wait next to a tree (or identifiable object). This places the students at a safe distance from traffic. Next, evacuate the non-ambulatory or partially ambulatory students. Use proper lifting techniques.  
  4. Have the student wrap his arms around the driver’s neck, the driver should use their legs to lift the student and gently lay them on the fire blanket or lift cover.  Uses the fire blanket or lift cover to drag the student out the rear emergency exit. Once at the doorway, grab the student under the arms and drag him out of the bus safely.
  5. If the driver’s is unable to evacuate the student because of size or weight differences, move the student as far away from the danger in the bus as possible.  Protect the student with a fire blanket or cover.
  6. Stay calm and focus throughout the evacuation process. Remember this: evacuations present different challenges and the driver has to adapt to each situation. The adage that one shoe fits all situations isn’t applicable in school bus evacuations.
  7. Practice parts of the drill, evacuation, and operate emergency exits throughout the entire year to adapt the students to usual situations.

 

CLOSING

This lesson described several procedures of how to evacuate a special needs bus. We went over the importance of knowing student disabilities as well as the abilities of the students who ride the bus. We touched on the importance of maintaining the bus and the equipment on it. We also went over how bus drivers should protect themselves during an evacuation. And now, it is up to you, the special needs bus driver to apply these procedures and techniques if you are ever faced with an evacuation of any kind. Remember to stay calm and focused. The children rely on your composure and direction. Think outside the box if it becomes necessary to get all students off the bus in an emergency situation.

 

 

TEST QUESTIONS

 

  1. You should not call on special needs students to be helpers during an evacuation because they won’t understand what to do.     
    • TRUE
    •  FALSE
  2. It is quicker and easier to first evacuate ambulatory students.     
    • TRUE
    •  FALSE
  3. Get students off the bus as fast as possible even if it results in personal injury. 
    • TRUE
    • FALSE
  4. A non-emergency evacuation, is one in which the speed of the evacuation is not critical to the safety of the students.     
    • TRUE
    • FALSE
  5. The only time you should evacuate a bus, is if students will be safer being off of the bus, than on it.     
    • TRUE
    • FALSE
  6. When preparing to evacuate students, you should:
    • a..Alert dispatch of the evacuation.
    • b.  Activate your hazards to warn motorists
    • c.  Secure the bus and take the key from the ignition.
    • d.  Let students on the bus know that they will be evacuating the bus.
    • e.  All of the above
  7. If the speed of the evacuation is not critical, then evacuate the wheelchair students first.     
    • TRUE 
    • FALSE
  8. You should tell students to walk approximately 100 from where the bus is stopped, during an evacuation event.     
    • TRUE
    • FALSE
  9. It is much quicker to evacuate a wheelchair student first during an emergency evacuation.   
    •  TRUE
    • FALSE
  10. It is also a good idea to hang the radio out of the driver’s window. 
    •  TRUE
    • FALSE

 

Additional Resources and Links

For additional resources, information, and links:

Mansfield ISD Transportation Department
School Bus Pre-Trip Training Video:  https://youtu.be/EtyyXs-OaHA

 

United States Department of Transportation
     NHTSA (NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION)
https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety

https://www.nhtsa.gov/laws-regulations/guidance-documents#52951


NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL
https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/school-safety/buses-safest-transportation-for-school-children


First Student:
https://firststudentinc.com/

Iowa Department of Education
https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/school-transportation/bus-safety

 

Cedar Falls Community School District Bus Drivers Manual

https://dx1slceezt1vd.cloudfront.net/attachments/b22e118fef0093186020661cf7cf60d2acdb67d8/store/6ab2f45a14915cde2fad347f5508bf8a301281866b8f2a05555612471a36/bus_driver_handbook_contents_2015-16.pdf

 

Emergency Plan For Student With Special Needs For Marin County School District pdf

http://crcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Emergency-Planning-for-Students-with-Special-Needs.pdf

 

School Transportation News:

"A New Way of Conducting Evacuation Drills" by Taylor Hannon May 19, 2021.

"A New Way of Conducting Evacuation Drills" by Taylor Hannon May 19, 2021

 

Rubric:

Curriculum, Planning, and Assessment

Pre-plan, pre-trip, quiz and key

Teaching All Students

High school age students to adult

Working together to accopmplsh a safe environment

Family and Community Engagement

Families' knowledge of safe emergency operations

Communication with dispatcher, knowledge of bus operations

Professional Culture

Students' daily knowledge of their bus buddies

Awareness of each students' role in an emergency