Union officials who represent Houston Independent School District bus drivers say they have been disturbed by recent events in Alabama. It’s where a gunman shot and killed a school bus driver and took a child hostage. That standoff has HISD drivers wondering what they would do if that happens here. Wretha Thomas with HESP says she performed an informal poll with 60 of her drivers. She asked what would they do if a gunman attempted to take over their bus with children aboard. I was shocked at the answer Thomas said she received from 56 of her 60 drivers. Thomas says, “the rest of them said if push came to shove they would get off the bus and give them the bus with the kids on it.” Thomas says that’s why it’s important all HISD bus drivers are given some type of training to deal with a scenario that involves a crazed gunman taking over a bus. Officials with HISD immediately responded to my calls for a comment saying they are working on a plan to address this issue. In fact, Erica Hilliard with HISD tells the Factor there are refresher courses planned next week for bus drivers who have already had counter-terrorism training last year. Here’s the district’s statement:
Hi Isiah, Here is a brief outline of some of the steps HISD has taken to ensure bus driver safety.
In August, all school bus drivers and attendants received both classroom and hands-on training in counterterrorism and weapons on buses.
1. The mock disaster involved an overturned bus.
2. The drill allowed staff to incorporate previous trainings such as student management, emergency evacuation, and counter-terrorism.
3. The drill also involved staged injuries which allowed the drivers and attendants to utilize the first-aid training they received last May.
4. In addition to safety skills the drivers were also reminded of:a. The importance of performing pre-trip and post-trip inspections of the busb. Looking for suspicious items such as canisters, metal boxes, or containersc. Immediately reporting suspicious items
5. I believe your folks at KRIV covered the drill as well. So you should have video of it in house if you need it.
· The training program was developed through concepts learned from the ‘Crisis Prevention Institute’ which is a national organization that prepares organizations to deal effectively with crisis situations.
· All bus drivers and attendants are certified in American Red Cross first aid training.·
NEXT WEEK, the terminals will be holding a counterterrorism refresher class next week for the drivers and attendants.
· Additional cameras have been added installed on the buses to record not only activity that occurs on the inside of the bus also to record activity that occurs on the outside of the bus.
Erica E. Hilliard
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Houston Independent School District