Shasta County school bus drivers train for violent situations

Jan 5, 2015 6:54 PM by Charlene Cheng

Aggressive driving, scaring off suspects, and throwing someone on the ground... not what you would probably picture in the job description for a school bus driver.

"These are precious people to somebody. My responsibility is not only to drive them safely, but also to make sure that they get home at the end of the day," said Wayne Richards, a bus driver with the Shasta Union High School District.

With school violence growing, it could very well be up to the bus driver to prevent a tragedy.

Jeff May, a former firefighter and policeman, runs a rigorous training program to help arm them with the right skills.

"We understand from a law enforcement perspective that it's a great possibility, and also we're getting some intel from various sources that it could be a great threat from terrorist attacks on our school buses," May said.

Drivers are trained to recognize a threat before they can get on the bus, but sometimes a gunman might not be apparent until already on board.

"If he's sitting in his seat or standing up, I'm going to do what's called the fishtail maneuver, which is a violent maneuver, fishtailing the bus back and forth and slamming the breaks on. That will hopefully bring him forward, he won't be prepared for the sudden stop. Then, gives me enough time to get out of my seat and get back and punch him in the throat or whatever I have to do to disable him from shooting any more students on the bus," bus driver James Helwig said.

Across the country, school districts are making sure that student safety isn't taking a back seat.

"We're all in this job because we like the kids, we want to do the right thing for them. We want to be the best for them, and I believe that we are," said Tom Carroll, Director of Transportation for the district.


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