Preparing for emergencies


The quiet road leading up to Tiverton’s arena was transformed into a tragic accident scene Friday as Tiverton fire crews and local bus drivers added a dose of reality to their training sessions.

One school bus sat completely on its side in the middle of the parking lot. A second was surrounded by emergency crews as it sat precariously in a ditch beside the fire station.

“We’ve held discussions about (what to do) in these situations,” said Ross Young Bus Lines’ Ken Young. “But, going through it is another.”

During the first of two training session, firefighters worked with Young employees to respond to a bus running off the road. Inside the bus, drivers and several young people acted as victims – simulating injuries from bruises and broken bones to loss of consciousness and death.

Firefighters dealt with several obstacles, including blocked entrances, and learned first-hand the limitations of working in a small, slanted bus.

“It’s amazing how stable a bus is,” said Captain Brian Young following the exercise. “It’s (startling) how difficult it is to work in tight spaces. School buses are made for children.”

Tiverton and Paisley firefighters help extricate a "victim" from a school bus during a training exercise in front of the Tiverton Fire Station Friday afternoon. (Kiel Edge photo)

The training day was the idea of the bus company, and the Tiverton station agreed to take part. Ken Young said his drivers’ participation helped give them another perspective on this type of accident. The company also filmed scenes both inside and outside the bus for use in a future training video.

“This is real life training,” Ken said. “The drivers have to go through the scenario and keep people calm while they figure out their responsibility.”

Each person on the bus was removed using the techniques that would be employed during a real tragedy and using real equipment. The participants were carried to a separate part of the lot which was used as a triage centre.

The exercise was useful for both the fire crews in the bus and those in charge of the operation. The bus company prepared its organization and communication plans, including accounting for all the patients, and also learned what to do in the early parts of a crash.

“We have our people understanding (what to do),” Ken said. “We don’t ever want this to happen, but we have to be prepared.”

Following the first scenario, the firefighters met to debrief and discuss what needed to be improved. Later in the day, crews cut the roof off an overturned bus, giving them another opportunity to train using real-life skills.

Both sides involved said the exercise was well-worth the large amount of preparation it required. Similar training tests will be incorporated in future years.