By RENE’ McADEN/Director of Transportation

Did you know that if a bus catches on fire you have less than three minutes to evacuate the bus before it is filled with smoke and flames?

It is for this exact reason that one of our lead bus drivers, Richard Nieves, approached me with the idea to have a joint training with the Abilene Fire Department. The lead drivers jumped into the planning of the training.  We then contacted a wrecker company who donated his equipment to overturn a bus that was no longer safe to be on the road, much less carrying students in.

Next thing you know, a representative from the Union Pacific Railroad called and asked that if we ever had time he would love to do a presentation on railroad safety. The answer of course was, “Yes,” and he then joined the agenda.

On Feb. 18, after over a month of preparation, the Transportation Department held a joint effort safety in-service day.

Although Mother Nature was not cooperative with the very cold temperatures, the group of dedicated drivers and monitors bundled up and moved around the yard for a hands-on participation training.  Different stations were set up to allow for an interactive training with practice of a front and rear evacuation, operating the wheel chair lift manually, how to properly use a fire extinguisher, where to cut a seatbelt to only have to cut once and how to crawl out of an overturned bus. Last but not least, a passenger seat was set on fire just to show how fast a  seat can go up in flames and melt.

With the help of our dedicated staff, the Abilene Fire Department and Union Pacific Railroad, the cold weather didn’t stop us from having an extremely informative learning experience.