Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Pittsfield Township – Hundreds of people came together Tuesday morning at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School with one purpose in mind – “Prepare for School Bus Emergencies”

Paul Hasenmeier, a Firefighter and Paramedic with the Huron Fire Department, lead the team of Instructors today. Hasenmeier’s 300 students consisted of Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics, School Bus Drivers, Mechanics, School Administrators and Public Officials. “The attendance today was very impressive – we had 250 people pre-register and then another 50 people showed up this morning to sign up. That tells me how dedicated this community is to educating themselves on how to handle these types of emergencies. Hopefully they will never have to use the training they received to day, but if they do they will certainly be more prepared today then they were yesterday.”

The idea of bringing all the professions together was simple, in the case of a school bus emergency there will be a lot going on and the event will affect each professional. “If there were a school bus crash, almost immediately you will have parents arriving at the scene so you will need the school officials for that aspect along with the fact that one of their buses was involved in the crash. The Firefighters today received good extrication training – hands on training cutting a school bus apart, a lot of them have not had that training before today.”

Hasenmeier said that it was important for all the professionals to be together today to see how an emergency like this would unfold.

Hasenmeier said that lessons learned today will continue beyond today. “The school officials will get together and ask themselves do we need a school flag and someone on the scene that can waive parents and family members over to one location outside of the hot zone. The Firefighters will ask if they need additional equipment to put on their apparatus that can make their job quicker, easier and safer.”

John Schroth, Assistant Superintendent of the Oberlin School District, met back in January with several school officials and discussed organizing a joint effort training session for a school bus emergency – today’s class far exceeded their expectations. “All of our training in the past has been isolated, I don’t think any of them have worked with the safety forces in the past, so this was a great opportunity for everyone to come together and see what would happen at an incident like this.”

Schroth applauded the school bus drivers for showing up in such strong numbers to the training. “For them to attend on an off day like this shows how dedicated they are and I find it very impressive. They need to have in service hours, but there are far easier ways to get them and in much better conditions then being out under the hot sun like today, so they need to be commended for making this a priority.”

Chief Robert Walker of the Wellington Fire District echoed the appreciation of the people who attended the training session. “The attendance was probably what we anticipated because during the week it’s hard for the part time volunteers to get away because of their full time jobs and we’re in the neighborhood of 70 to 75 Firefighters and EMS participating here today. I know the school bus association is very pleased and as far as the Fire Chiefs from the County we’re extremely pleased that we had that many people available that took the time and got great training today.”

Chief Walker said that he had a sneak peek at Hasenmeier giving a speech at a Fire Chief’s convention last week. “With seeing him already I knew how well he can do as an instructor, he did a great job for the county. He showed then Stabilization, he showed them how to extricate from different areas of the buses because we don’t get to operate in school buses, which is a good thing, so they had great opportunities to see how wheel chair lifts operate manually and also electronically. How to open doors properly, how to open the roof and sides to access the students and the driver. The objectives were well covered here today.”

Chief Walker said that discussions have already begun for expanding today’s training. “The Chiefs and the County Chiefs what they try to do is to be very proactive in the training area. In the county we have increased our training our part time volunteers from Firefighter Volunteer up to Firefighter 1 & 2. The next thing is we start doing specialized training. This past winter we had a speaker come into Lorain County Community College and speak about fire ground safety and safety for the Firefighter and survival.”

Hasenmeier said he will be happy to return to Lorain County anytime they request additional training from him and his team. “One of my goals is to make Ohio the most prepared state for school bus crashes, and if we can do it on a county level – county by county – then we’ll do it 88 times. “

To see more photos from today’s training: CLICK HERE


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