School bus drivers from 38 districts around California participated in a full-day, hands-on training session.
School bus drivers have been attending this workshop for eight years. With so many school shootings in recent years, organizers focused this year’s workshop on active shooter situations. They brought in the professionals at APEX Safety Curriculum Fundamentals to teach those special skills.
“Every year, we try to bring something else out to add to their toolbox so they are always better prepared for what may happen,” State Certified School bus driver instructor, Pam Zanze said.
First, drivers became students inside the classroom to learn the fundamentals about dealing with a shooter. Then, they participated in scenarios that require special offensive driving techniques and physical contact.
Deborah Schaal is one of many bus drivers that participated in the workshop. She is a substitute driver from the Marysville Joint Unified School District. She said the workshop was more valuable than any training she has ever received in the past.
“Our role is 100 times or more important and more dangerous, because a classroom may only have 20 students, and we're having 50 to 84 students on our bus,” Zanze said. “And then the outside world, with all the cars and being the defensive driver, and keeping your eye on the road, and keeping your eyes behind you with all the students.”
Zanze said these drivers take it to heart that they are the defensive line for the students in between their homes and schools.
As a beginner who just got her bus driving license last year, Schaal has not faced any emergency situations in her new career. But if or when the time comes, she said she will be ready.
“I’d be ready to lay down my life for any of these kids,” Schaal said. “And if that means taking down one of these kids that is the ‘assassin,’ I would take them down, because I don't want any of my other kids getting hurt."