Meridian first responders train for emergencies involving students, school buses

Posted at 4:51 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 20:03:08-04

MERIDIAN, Idaho — School districts across the state are gearing up for the start of the school year — but it's not just students and teachers making final preparations.

Meridian police and firefighters are training for a variety of scenarios involving students and school buses.

Bus drivers for the West Ada school district attended an all-day training session Tuesday, where they watched Meridian firefighters train for accidents that could result in a school bus engulfing in flames or tipping onto its side.

"I think it gives people an awareness of how quickly a bus is going to go up in flames when it does," Meridian Fire Division Chief of Training Jordan Reese said. "It will give bus drivers an awareness of their time and how important it will be to get the kids out of the bus and into a safe space."

Crews also spent the morning using equipment to cut open portions of a bus, to rescue children that could be trapped inside.

In order to avoid situations like this, every driver on the road plays a part.

Patrol officers say the start of the school year usually brings more cars, more traffic, and more pedestrians. That's why they'll be out enforcing traffic laws at school zones and bus stops.

"There's a lot of things that can happen, especially when you have kids trying to cross the road and buses stopping," Meridian Patrol Sergeant Justin Dance said. "When their red lights come on, to make sure they're stopping; make sure they're obeying the stop signs that come out on the school buses, and not trying to pass them."

But back-to-school training doesn't stop there. School resource officers with Nampa and West Ada spent last week training for active shooter scenarios, practicing techniques for clearing hallways, breaching classrooms, and evacuating students.

"We take Parkland, Columbine, a lot of these other incidents that we can learn from, and our tactics this week aren't just about Uvalde, but we do take a lot of that information to make sure that our officers are ready," Meridian PD School Resource Officer John Gonzales said.

And another reminder for students and parents: if you see something, say something. SROs say it could save lives.

"Unfortunately, in a lot of the school shooting type situations, people knew what was going to happen prior to it happening," Gonzales said. "So what we encourage is for people to report if they know a student is having some difficulty, or maybe talking about a school shooting, to let somebody know."