Apr 10, 2011 2:10 PM
Roughly 100 Butte County bus drivers started their weekend off with a bang. It was all apart of the first ever bus hostage simulation training. Butte County Sheriff's SWAT Team Commander, Lt. Andrew Duch says, "Our main focus today was to train the bus drivers on how to be good hostages. How to behave when they're taken hostage. What to do and what not to do."
Bus drivers from eight different school districts in Butte County participated in the hostage training at Butte College Saturday. For a hands of attempt at school transportation safety by actually having them be the hostages.
Donna Miller, a bus driver for Durham, says, "It was very different from a classroom. The experiences of sounds and smells made it very real." Butte County Bus Driver Instructor, Joann Titsworth says, "Sometimes just going through all the motions actually will heighten their ability to deal with the situation if it ever actually happened."
There were three different hostage scenario's which involved an upset parent or disgruntled rider, and included flash bombs, a sniper initiated assault, and a negotiation attempt to reason with a hostage taker. "Sometimes it can last eight hours or more so to have that realization now and know that someone's not going to be right there on the bus to save us when it happens," Miller says.
Other things taught during the training were beyond just physical, like how to mentally handle a hostage situation. "Things to say. To humanize themselves. To develop empathy with the hostage taker. Things to avoid saying. Certain triggering comments that could make things worse," says Lt. Duch.
Theoverall reaction to the training was positive, and most agreed it was a worthwhile experience for the safety of children across Butte County. Thermalito Bus Driver Kim Oxley says, "After experiencing something like this, it really does heighten your awareness.. It was very, very real."