School district provides emergency bus training for students

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WARDSVILLE - Blair Oaks R-II School District is holding bus training event to educate students on bus safety Wednesday morning. 

Students from elementary school to high school will be excused from morning classes for more than an hour to learn about bus safety from members of the sheriff's department and highway patrol. 

Superintendent Jim Jones said, while no one hopes for an accident to occur, the training is a way to stay proactive.

"We hope that we never have to deal with a bus accident, let alone a serious bus accident," said Jones. "But every mile we travel, we are one mile closer. It’s not if, its when, and we are going to prepare as such."

This is the 13th annual training for the district. Sergeant Ralph Lemongelli, the school resource officer for the district, is running the training. Lemongelli said the bus training should be practiced the same way as traditional fire drills as it gives students hands on examples.  

"It’s just a good opportunity for students to go through the motions," said Lemongelli. "Not to just talk about safety on the bus but actually get their hands on the emergency exits, where they are and how they can use them."

The program educates all students but specifically trains "bus leaders" to help out in emergency situations. The bus leaders are typically middle school or high school students. Jones called them "consistent bus riders" and "natural leaders". 

The idea of having bus leaders stemmed from the program name itself, with the students acting as the first level of defense in an emergency situation. 

"We entitled our program that 'Our First Responder is You'," said Jones. "We talk about emergency personnel and first responders responding, but those students on the bus are going to need to make some critical decisions immediately. So we talk about those decision and how to make them appropriately." 

The training will be held at 8:10 a.m. in the Blair Oaks High School Library. 

[Editor's note: This story previously stated the training would be held on Tuesday morning.]