Fort Dodge Community School District

FD School Drill Focuses on Bus Safety - from The Messenger

October 20, 2018

On a normal trip to and from school or to an activity, the wheels on the bus keep turning round 'n' round without incident.

The students get from A to B.

There is however always the remote possibility that on one of those trips, something could go wrong.

Then it's off the bus and off the bus now.

The students at the Fort Dodge Middle School recently had a chance to practice safely evacuating their busses.

Roger Baedke, a driver for the Fort Dodge Community School District, said the instructions apply equally to all.

"Every kid eventually will ride a bus," he said. "You have to learn how to get off safely and swiftly. It should be a habit after awhile. There's 30 kids on the bus; you should be able to get them off in 60 seconds."

Baedke has been driving for a decade. In those thousands of miles, he's never had to evacuate his bus.

"But you never know," he said. "You hope it doesn't happen. It's always better to be prepared for the worst."

District bus driver Jonathan Barton was among the drivers who worked with groups of students during the evacuation drill.

Their driver might not be there, it's important the students know what to do.

"In the future the bus driver may look to you guys to help," Barton said. "The driver may not be able to help at all. One of you might be responsible for saving 30 lives."

Barton said there's a number of reasons a bus might have to be evacuated.

"There could be a fire, an accident, the bus could be stuck on a railroad crossing, it could break down in low visibility or the driver could have a heart attack or a stroke," he said.

He said there are several ways out. The back door, the side windows, the front door and there's even a hatch in the roof for use if the bus is on its side.

Each model is slightly different.

"Not all buses are exactly the same," he said.

If possible, the driver would prefer to evacuate through the side door.

"It's the safest way out," he said.

The most important lesson is for the students to listen to their driver's instructions.

"That's the most important thing," he said. "Listen to your driver."

That driver, whether it's Barton or someone else, has one top priority.

"My main concern," he said, "I make sure everyone is safe. That's my main job."

As part of the drill, the students are taught to help each other. Two students are enlisted to help the others off the bus and another is tasked with leading them to a safe spot off the road and away from the bus.

"If there are little kids you may have to help them get to the ground," he said.

Baedke said that each student in the district is required to participate in the evacuation drills twice each school year.

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