Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Local first responders train for bus extraction


May 3, 2018

Joe Thomas

Local firemen train with specialized equipment on extracting passengers from school buses

Saying it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when, area firemen gathered Saturday for a training exercise on how to extricate passengers in the event of a bus wreck.

Freddie Wayne McCall Sr., and Flomaton Speedway, allowed the fire departments to use the old school buses that were part of the recent school bus races at the racetrack.

Flomaton Fire Capt. Jeremy Lee and Barnett Crossroads Chief Ben Roe said the drill was a success but said more training is necessary.

Escambia County (Fla.) Firefighter Kenny Fehl was the instructor. Lee and Roe said Fehl was on scene when emergency personnel responded to the charter bus crash on Interstate 10.

Members of the Escambia County (Ala.) Rescue Squad and firefighters from Flomaton, Wawbeek, Barnett Crossroads and Boykin-Damascus participated in the training at the race track.

"Buses are a whole different animal than cars," Roe said. "There needs to be more training."

"School buses are constructed well for the precious cargo they carry," Roe added. "The weight of buses is a contributing factor and they are top heavy. Most crashes involve a rollover."

He said most extracting tools are designed for automobiles. He noted buses only have two doors and during a rollover there may not be access through the doors.

Roe and Lee said to gain access to the passengers holes have to be cut into the sides and roof of the bus.

"We have to take whatever access we can," Roe said.

He said holes also have to be cut to allow two grown firemen and a backboard to get inside the bus.

Roe also said once entry is made to the interior of the bus it's difficult to move around due to the seats and only one isle.

Lee said Saturday's training helped identify which equipment would work best when trying to cut into an overturned bus. He said Flomaton will hold another training Tuesday night.

"We want to do a timed event to see how long it actually takes to get inside," he said. "In the event of an actual crash every second counts."


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