Boardman trains for bus rescue

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While kids are busy enjoying their summer vacation, the Boardman Fire Department is training for when they get back on the school bus.

Firefighters spent Monday training for school bus accidents. Boardman Fire Chief George Brown said one of the biggest challenges is an overturned bus. That situation was the focus of Monday’s training.

“We don’t get the opportunity to do that every day. We get two automobiles crashing but this gives us an opportunity on the large rigs and buses to do specialized training,” said Brown.

The step-by-step training included turning a bus over on its side and stabilizing the vehicle in order to treat injured riders. The department also brought out their auto evacuation equipment to help cut through the new, high-tech alloy doors on many buses.

“It’s really an uneasy feeling responding to a school bus accident not knowing if its full, empty, how many kids are on there and the potential,” said Boardman firefighter Mark Pitzer. “These school buses can typically hold about 50 to 60 kids on it, and the average number of patients is 22.”

Pitzer said there are 21,000 bus accidents a year in the U.S., resulting in 55 fatalities. He said most of time the children on the bus suffer minor injuries, but if a bus rolls over, riders can get trapped underneath.

One of the training scenarios involved a victim with their arm pinned under the bus. Air bags were placed under the vehicle and inflated to lift the bus off the training dummy.

Another issue with a bus rescue is manpower. With only two to three firefighters staffing each truck, it often takes multiple units to respond to an average crash let alone one involving a school bus.

“The manpower it takes to rapidly, not only treat the patients but to stabilize the vehicle and do extraction takes a lot of people on scene,” said Brown.

Pitzer said buses are very safe and typically do not roll over when they are involved in a collision. He said buses travel more than 22 million miles a day across the U.S.

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