Getting Out Safely: Cooper Students Learn how to get off Bus in Emergency - from The Messenger
Fort Dodge Community School District bus driver Michelle Ely has been driving students to and from school for the past four years.
During that time, her charges normally get on the bus, and off the bus, via the usual way — through the door she opens for them.
But Wednesday morning, while parked along the west side of Cooper Elementary School, the students that ride her bus exited a different way: out the back through the emergency door.
Before getting to do that, though, the students got instructions on how to get out of the bus in several other ways as part of the district’s annual School Bus Evacuation Drill.
“This lever here,” Ely said, moving a red lever over the door. “This lets you open the door.”
There’s also a set of windows with a red latch that open and a hatch in the roof.
It’s important for the students to know how to get out.
“The driver might be hurt,” she said. “You have to know what to do.”
It’s also important for them to know when to get out.
“If there’s a fire. If the bus is close to railroad tracks are two situations,” she said.
The students got to practice the right way to get out the back as well. Two fourth-grade students helped the kindergarten students.
“You want to scoot out,” Ely said. “Scoot and slide. Put your hands on their shoulders and scoot.”
The priority is to get the students off the bus. Their backpacks, lunch and books are of little consequence in an emergency.
“Your stuff that’s on the bus,” she said. “Leave it. It’s only important that you get out.”
As the first group of students finished their drill, Cooper Principal Bruce Hartley watched them from nearby.
“It’s important,” he said. “Even the students that don’t ride the bus every day have to be aware.”
He said that bus evacuation drills are an essential part of the safety drills practiced in the schools, along with fire and tornado drills. He said the critical thing is keeping the students safe from harm.
He hopes their newly-acquired skills are never needed.
“Our bus drivers do a fantastic job,” he said. “You’re better safe than sorry.”
In addition to the drill, the students also watched a short video about bus safety.
Each school in the district will be participating in the drills this week.