Denny Coughlin, President, entered the school bus industry 40 years ago. He has toured every major school bus manufacturing plant in the country, and some in Canada. He stays current with the industry. He understands the construction and design of the school bus from all the manufacturers.
A class was developed over 25 years ago upon request from the State Department of Education to train the emergency personnel to work with the school bus. Since that time, hundreds of classes have been conducted. About 14,000 fire and rescue personnel have been trained, and Denny has overseen the destruction of almost 200 school buses in drills and demonstrations.
Classes have been taught at Minnesota Sectional Fire Schools, through multiple locations of the State College system, and under contract with School Bus Training Company throughout the US.
Training has run from 2 hours to 16 hours in length. Typically, a 3 hour classroom program is given to educate a department on the features of the school bus, and to understand the design of the bus. A drill, with or without students, often follows with a school bus that can be destroyed, so the methods learned in the classroom can be practiced, and more instruction can be given. A complete class and drill can usually be conducted in 6 hours of instruction.
The training includes the different types of school buses, student capacities with each group, fuel systems used and concerns for each type, initial entry of the bus and alternatives if needed, the construction of the school bus, what happens during a crash to the passengers inside the school bus, and how to evaluate the severity of the accident upon arrival at the scene, to list a few items discussed. There is a large discussion on the safety of the school bus, and discussion on the usage of lap belts, and lap/shoulder belts on school buses.
Denny is familiar with the hydraulic tools and assures the most effective use in the drills that are performed. He has worked with all brands and works with the personnel in the class to understand which tools work best in areas of the bus. It is a priority to accomplish a task with whatever tools are available, spreaders cutters or ram. Other tools are tested for effectiveness such as sawzall, K-12 saw, air chisel, and others, along with specific instruction to perform the tasks in the most effective manner for that school bus.
One comment that is always heard after a drill from the fire departments is, “These school buses are a lot tougher than I thought they were.”
A recent comment from a fire fighter that had attended a school bus class elsewhere, after attending this drill was, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know about the school bus till today.”
Many departments have voted this class the best training of the year for their departments.
Denny assures satisfaction with the students and takes pride in keeping the students interested in learning about the (what can be boring) school bus.