"Block Training" Special Needs School Bus Evacuation


                                              Developed by:
                                             Valparaiso Fire Department Training Division
                                                     and Valparaiso School System
                                                                 (June 2012)


Welcome to this months "Block Training". Chris Larr from the Valparaiso School System called and asked if we were interested in training on Special Needs School Bus Evacuation. 

The date was set and a program was developed it was then I realized that I had never received training in regards to handling special needs kids during an emergency. This is very good training for us and I'm sure Chris will present important information to help assist us if a situation occurs.

Below you will find material provided for Company Op's. Use the material prior to the classroom which is scheduled to begin June 20th. When finished or prior to beginning print and complete the "Special Needs Grand Round Questions" provided at the bottom.

When completed turn in to your Battalion Chief.

Training will take place at the administrative area of the Bus Barn on Evans.
Starts a 9 am and will continue to 2 pm. (Lunch not provided but the time is-11 to 12 )
Bus Extrication Power Point and Fire

(Section 1)

 To begin review the video provided. As a crew how would you handle a bus fire. Would you do what the firefighter in the video does?
This will be a question on the "Special Needs Grand Round Questions."

Bus Fire Video

The Link below is a Power Point presentation on Bus Extrication compliments of Todd Hoffman. He heard we were going to do some school bus training so prior to leaving he burned us a disk.

Go through the power point discuss how we would handle some of the scenarios shown with the equipment we have. (takes awhile to load)

Bus Extrication
Bus Extrication Presentation

Autism Rescue:

(Section 2)

Firefighter teaches how to help autistic people in emergencies 

As an experienced firefighter and a devoted father to an autistic son, Bill Cannata is combining the two worlds he knows so well to help protect others.

Takes a minute to load.

Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs


Read only the first three pages on the link below. Understand the definitions we could be encounter anyone of the conditions listed.

The remaining information is not revelent to the goal of our training at this time. Quickly scan the remaining page so you will get an understanding that there is a lot more to transporting Special Needs Kids than we realize

Review the first 3 pages

School Transportation-Related Crashes
(Revised March 2011)

(Section 4)

A school transportation-related crash is a crash which involves, either directly or
indirectly, a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school
bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities.

Since 2000 there were 371,104 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,245
(0.34%) were classified as school transportation-related.

Autism & Law Enforcement / First Responder

25 Field Response Tips 
by Dennis Debbaudt

(Section 5)

Law enforcement and firefighter professionals may unexpectedly encounter or be asked to find a person with autism. Recognizing the behavior symptoms and knowing contact approaches can minimize situations of risk--risk or victimization of the person with autism, and risk to the officer or firefighter.
You may learn the person has autism from dispatch, family member or someone at the scene, or the person himself or herself.

The following are 25 field response tips for officers and firefighters:

1. Make sure the person is unarmed and maintain a safe distance because they may
    suddenly invade your personal space.

2. Talk calmly and softly.

3. Speak in direct, short phrases such as: “Stand up now.” or “Get in the car.”

4. Avoid slang expressions, such as: “What’s up your sleeve?” or “Are you pulling my

5. Allow for delayed responses (10-15 seconds) to your questions or commands.

6. Repeat or rephrase.

7. Consider use of pictures, written phrases/commands, sign language or computer

8. Use low gestures for attention; avoid rapid pointing or waving.

9. Examine for presence of medical alert jewelry or tags, or an autism handout card.

10. Model calming body language (such as slow breathing and keeping hands low)

11. Model the behavior you want the person to display.

12. A person with autism may not react well to changes in routine or the presence of
     strangers, even a uniformed responder.

13. Officers/Firefighters should not interpret the person’s failure to respond to
     orders or questions as a lack of cooperation or a reason for increased force.

14. Seek information and assistance from parent or others at the scene about how to
     communicate with and de-escalate the person’s behavior.

15. Avoid stopping repetitive behaviors unless there is risk of injury to yourself or

16. If the individual is holding and appears to be fascinated with an inanimate object,
     consider allowing subject to hold the item for the calming effect (if officer safety is
     not jeopardized by doing so).

17. Evaluate for injury: person may not ask for help or show any indications of pain,
     even though injury seems apparent.

18. Be aware that the person may be having a seizure

19. Be aware of person’s self-protective responses and sensitivities to even usual
     lights, sounds, touches, orders, and animals - canine or mounted patrol

20. If possible, turn off sirens and flashing lights and remove canine partners,
     crowds, or other sensory stimulation from the scene

21. If person’s behavior escalates, use geographic containment and maintain a safe
     distance until any inappropriate behaviors lessen

22. Remain alert to the possibility of outbursts or impulsive acts

23. Use your discretion. If you have determined that the person is unarmed and have
     established geographic containment, use all available time to allow the person to
     deescalate themselves without your intervention.

24. If in custody, alert jail authorities. Consider initial isolation facility. Person would
      be at risk in general prison population.

25. REMEMBER: Each individual with autism is unique and may act or react differently

Autism is America’s fastest growing developmental disability. The rate of autism has seen a dramatic increase. Autism is estimated to affect as many as one in every 88 children (CDCNCBDDD,2012).

Research indicates that people, who have developmental disabilities, including autism, will have up to seven times more contacts with police than a member of the general public. (Curry et al, 1993)

Children and adults with autism now live, work, go to school and recreate in the community.

Law enforcement professionals will have field interactions with children and adults with autism, their parents and care providers. Autism Recognition, Response and Risk Management training sessions are designed help officers/firefighters make these interactions safer, less stressful, and more informed.
People with autism are as different from each other as we all are. They may inherently present autism spectrum-based behaviors and characteristics in different combinations and degrees. Each person will have a different level of independence as well. Some persons with autism will have a caregiver with them at all times. Others will live semi or fully independent lives. 

You will hear terms such as low functioning autism, high functioning autism, and Asperger syndrome to describe the condition.

 In most cases, the person will have difficulties following your verbal commands, with reading your body language, and will have deficits in social understanding.

As with Alzheimer’s patients, children and adults with autism may wander away from care and into danger.


(Section 6)

You tube video of tragic accident involving a Special Needs Bus. It show that situations can and do happen. Discuss ways how we would handle something like this.

2) Educational Video on seat restraints

3) Example of Buses from Kouts, North Judson area

4) Bus crash notice the different reactions of the students.

5) Bus crash look how the lady is thrown and whipped around.

6) ABC News clip on Safety-Bus Roll Over.

Special Needs School Bus Fact Sheet:

(Section 7)

Chris Larr from the Valpo School System has prepared a Fact sheet about Special Needs School Bus Evacuation that we should be aware of.

They are;

• If there is smoke pop the roof hatches so the smoke will rise and you can see if someone is on the floor.

• There is a red folder is the Drivers’ area containing student information. The folder is marked CONFIDENTIAL/Drivers, Aides & First Responders.

• Seat belt cutters are found in the Driver area

• Emergency Exits = entrance door, back door, lift door and 4 emergency exit windows.

• Drivers and Aides are trained to evacuate as many students as possible as quickly as possible. The ones in restraints are non-ambulatory or are runners and will be last off.

• When there is oxygen on board there will be 3 “oxygen in use” placards displayed on board. Locations are: on the first step riser at the entrance door, on the inside of the back door and on the wall over where the oxygen is located.

• If there are children in a restraint system (harness, STAR seat, or belt with a pill cap) and there is no time to unfasten it…leave them in it and cut the belt below the buckle and take them out with the restraint on. It gives you something to hold onto to control the child.

• Children in wheelchairs will be taken out of the chair for evacuation unless you have the time to run the lift.

• NEVER leave any of the children unattended!



Special Needs students will get upset when:
• There are loud noises or sudden movements
• There is a disruption of their routine
• They are asked to leave their belongings behind
• They are touched
• They are approached by strangers

Some behaviors you may witness:
• Kicking, screaming, hitting and spitting
• Aggression
• They may show lack of fear
• They may start banging their head
• Seizures

Usually these behaviors are the result of efforts to survive the situation.

Things to remember:
• Make sure to tell the student what you are going to do BEFORE you do it.
• Keep verbage to a minimum. Tell the student what TO do instead of what not to do.
• Don’t make them look you in the eye.
• Talk to them in a normal, calm voice but be firm.


Special Needs Grand Round:

(Section 8)

Link to print questions:  Special Needs Grand Rounds

Special Needs School Bus Grand Round Questions
1) The answers to this question can be found in Section 1 (Introduction). In the video of a school bus on fire does the firefighter make entry in to the burning bus?

2) Regarding the same video would you approach the bus fire in the same manner as the firefighter in the video?

3) In the Autism Rescue Section 2 there is a news clip on Mr. Cannata. How old is his son Ted Cannata?
A) 18 B) 16 C) 21 D) 24.

4) The same video from Section 2 shows firefighter Bill Turner calm a boy with autism during an emergency. What did he do that calmed the boy?

5) In Section 3 “Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs” The link
provided contains a paragraph from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
“What is possible for a school district be required to provide”?

6) Section 3 provides the definition of Special Education.
What does the term “Special Education” mean?

7) Section 3 “Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs” link has a list of definitions of impairments. What is the definition of “Speech or Language Impairment?

8) Section 4 provides facts about school transportation related crashes. A total of 371,104 fatal motor vehicle crashes since 2000. How many were classified as school transportation related?
A) 125 B) 4,251 C) 25 D) 1,245

9) Section 5 offers “25 Field Response Tips for Law Enforcement and First Responders. The tips help us if/when we respond to a scene involving someone with Autism.
Of the 25 tips how many were you aware of prior to training?

10) Section 5 offers a few facts. One of the facts is that research indicates that people with developmental disabilities, including Autism are more likely to have ________ more contacts with the police?
A) 7 times B) 10 times C) 3 times D) 9 times

11) In Section 5 it states that you may hear 3 terms that describe the Autism condition. What are those terms?
1. 2. 3.

12) Section 6 contains Videos. Video #3 shows a school bus out of control.
Does the bus roll over? A) Yes B) No

13) Section 7 covers “Special Needs School Bus Facts”.
One Fact pertains to children in restraint systems. In an emergency if there is no time to unfasten the restraint what are we advised to do?

14) Section 7 talks about a red folder that each Special Needs Bus will have. Where is it located on the Bus?

15) Section 7 gives us examples of behaviors we may witness. What are they and what are they a result of?

16) What is your opinion of the “Blocked Training” and what ideas would you offer to improve our site?